When I think of San Francisco, one of the first things that comes to mind is the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building (you should have assumed one of my favorite things has to do with food!). The Ferry Building is a special place with scrumptious restaurants like The Slanted Door (Vietnamese cuisine) and Taylor's Refresher (California-style roadside dining), and fine-food specialty shops like the Cowgirl Creamery (cheese), Acme Bread, Miette (cupcakes), and Scharffen Berger (chocolate). So it's only appropriate that the recipe below happens to come from my favorite Ferry Building restaurant (The Slanted Door).
The smells and flavors of this Asian-style chicken dish combined with heavenly scented jasmine rice are wonderful. And paired with the fact it only takes 30 minutes to throw together (start-to-finish), you can't really go wrong - it's faster (and better) than just ordering carry-out. To dress up the flavors and textures, I often like to serve the chicken with peeled and steamed edamame (many grocers like Trader Joe's offer this option on the frozen foods section).
So...with that said, what better meal could you make for yourself during the work week? This is a wonderfully fast, healthy, and flavorful dish that can make any night seem like a special evening. You'll feel good about yourself...even if you didn't make it to the gym tonight :)
Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/4 c fish sauce
- 1/4 c water
- 3 T rice vinegar
- 1 t minced garlic
- 1 t finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 t coarsely ground pepper
- 2 dried red chiles
- 1 T vegetable oil (I like "Smart Balance")
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces (MM Tip: If you prefer the texture of white meat, chicken breast also works well in this recipe)
- 1/4 c cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped (MM Comment: I used a little more cilantro than this and it gave the dish a bright, fresh flavor)
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and chiles.
- Heat the oil in a large deep skillet. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken and simmer over high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the cilantro and serve with steamed jasmine rice.