Vietnamese-style caramel ginger chicken (Gà kho gùng)

A family favourite in Vietnam, where pork or fish are often used instead of chicken. The grassy freshness of unrefined cane sugar pairs well with ginger, peppercorns and fish sauce.

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus resting
  • Cooking time: 55 minutes
  • Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus resting

Makes: 6


6 chicken legs
5 tbsp Billington’s unrefined light brown soft sugar
4 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
½ tsp black peppercorns, coarsely ground
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
100g fresh root ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 red chilli, finely sliced
3 salad onions, finely sliced


1. Divide the chicken legs into thighs and drumsticks, trimming off and discarding any excess skin. Toss in a large bowl with a pinch of salt, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp fish sauce; set aside. Mix the remaining 4 tbsp sugar and 3 tbsp fish sauce with the black pepper and a pinch of salt; set aside.

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a very large, wide casserole (or heavy- based frying pan) and fry the ginger, red onion and garlic over a medium-high heat, until soft and lightly golden – about 8-10 minutes; remove and set aside on a plate. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the pan and add the chicken, skin-side down. Cook, in batches if needed, over a medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes, until the skin is deep brown and caramelised.

3. Turn the chicken and repeat, caramelising it on the other side, then return the onion, ginger and garlic to the pan. Pour in the fish sauce and sugar mixture, cover the pan and gently bring to the boil. Uncover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup and the chicken is cooked through; add a splash of water if it starts to catch. Cover and rest for 5 minutes, then scatter with the chilli and salad onions. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and greens, if liked.