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The first time I had chicken cooked caramel sauce was at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. “Caramel? With chicken?” I thought. But once I tasted it, I didn’t need to wonder why it became their signature dish.

Back then, The Slanted Door was a small restaurant in the Mission, on a street that was notable for Latin markets, edgy bars, and burritos. Things have changed and last time I went with Romain, I took him into a hipster shop that had “pine water,” that was something like $80 a bottle. When the bearded clerk wearing a soy-based dyed muslin apron with leather straps and vintage buckles kindly asked how we were finding everything, Romain replied in broken English, “Very expensive.”

The Slanted Door was sort of a breakthrough place in San Francisco, and it thrived in that neighborhood, until the chef wanted to expand, which raised the ire of some of the neighbors. So he moved to the Ferry Plaza building, to spiffier digs, adjacent to the splendid outdoor market. I ate there about a year ago and the famous Clay Pot Caramel Chicken is still on the menu, and still a favorite.

At The Slanted Door, the dish is cooked in a clay pot. I have a gazillion pots and pans, seemingly for everything, except a clay pot. And I’m not getting one, because I have nowhere to put it. (I’m still trying to find a place for the slow cooker that everyone said that I just had to have…which is still unopened.)

But it doesn’t matter; the chicken in caramel sauce can be made in any vessel, like a large skillet or saucepan, or even a Dutch (or French) oven-type pot. Heck, if you’ve got one (and have opened in the box), you could probably make it in a slow cooker.

I love this recipe for a number of reasons. One is that’s it’s very easy and quick to make; you can have dinner on the table in about half an hour. But also, you don’t need to hunt down a laundry list of ingredients to get authentic Vietnamese flavors. The only thing you’ll need to do is track down palm sugar.

Supermarkets in America often carry coconut sugar, which is close, but not quite the same thing. I haven’t tried it, so can’t say if it’ll work, so I recommend stocking up on palm sugar. It’s inexpensive and lasts forever. I discovered palm sugar on a trip to Thailand, fell in love with it, and brought back enough to last me through the following decade.

I made a few modifications to the original recipe but the best tip ever was from Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, who told me, “Melt the palm sugar in a microwave oven!” which works very well; in thirty seconds, you’ve got melted palm sugar. Bingo! That worked great and I made it with the aid of le micro-onde the next time I tried it, and it worked like a charm.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken

Adapted from The Slanted Door by Charles Phan. I tinkered with the recipe, mostly with the portion size. Although I think they have their place, chicken thighs, rather than boneless chicken breasts, are best to use here. I've tried it with all breast meat and the dish is less-appealing made with white meat. For those who insist, a good compromise would be a mix of dark and white meat. Palm sugar is available in Asian markets and online. It usually comes in disks, although it's sometimes sold in tubs, which is harder to portion out. Indian markets carry jaggery, a cousin to palm sugar (sometimes made from sugar cane, and is a bit more stubborn to melt), could be used, although I recommend tracking down palm sugar.
Servings 4 servings

For the caramel

  • 8 ounces (235g) light brown palm sugar, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (160ml) fish sauce
  • 2 Thai chiles, sliced lengthwise

For the chicken

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (700g) boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 inch (5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 3 medium shallots (about 2 ounces, total, 60g) shallots, peeled and sliced into rings
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • To make the caramel, melt the palm sugar over low heat in a medium-to-large saucepan or skillet, stirring frequently (and breaking it up) to encourage it to melt. It'll take about 10 minutes to liquefy completely. Similarly, you can place the palm sugar in a large glass heatproof measuring cup or bowl and melt the palm sugar in a microwave oven, which will take about 20 to 30 seconds.
  • When the sugar is melted and bubbling, remove from heat and gradually add the fish sauce into the liquefied palm sugar, while stirring. (If you have a hood fan, you may wish to turn it on before adding the fish sauce.) It may also bubble up a bit, so be careful. Add the chiles and set aside.
  • To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a medium-to-large sauté or wide braising pan, or regular-sized Dutch oven. Add the ginger and shallots and cook until they start to wilt, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken and the caramel, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat until the sauce is just simmering. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. (The original recipe said to cook the chicken for 20 minutes, but mine was done sooner.)


Serving: Serve the chicken with rice.
Storage: The chicken is best eaten right after it's made. The sauce can be made up to one month ahead, and refrigerated. Rewarm until liquified before using.

Related Posts and Links

Charles Phan makes Clay Pot Chicken with Caramel Sauce (Epicurious, Video)

Palm sugar and Coconut sugar (The Spruce)

Palm Sugar (Amazon)

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Coffee Popsicles



    • Kristin

    I have tried a caramel chicken before, and the caramel seized every time I tried it. I am working on my menus and grocery list, so this is going straight on them. I think I already have everything but the shallots! Oops, and chicken. I’m going to show my daughter your comment about the palm sugar, because she was concerned that we’ve had ours too long. Thanks for sharing this!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I made this a few times and the caramel didn’t seize, although when I made it with jaggery (cane sugar), the sugar didn’t melt as smoothly or easily as palm sugar. I’m sure different brands behave differently, but not to worry about caramel seizing in this recipe – if it does, the simmering with the chicken should liquefy it and create a nice sauce.

    • Taste of France

    This sounds delicious. There is nothing better than managing to recreate a favorite restaurant dish, especially when the restaurant is too far away to frequent in person. I’ve spent many hours in the kitchen on the sometimes successful but often quixotic quest to replicate something awesome I’ve discovered. Thanks for this!

    • Ellen A.

    Romain’s response to the clerk was priceless!

    • jeannette

    I bought some fish sauce and it is so strong that I cannot use more than a few drops. 2/3 cup would be disastrous. I wonder if I am using the wrong kind?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It’s very strong stuff, but is somehow mellowed by being mixed with the palm sugar and cooked. I’ve made this with Red Boat brand (which is excellent) as well as Squid brand, which is available in most Asian food shops, and it was the right quantity.

        • Suzi

        Switched to Red Boat, which I had to order on Amazon, but it keeps in the fridge forever. It was so much better than the usual grocery store ones, I threw my old one out.

    • Lainie

    Thank goodness for Romain. I wish he had been with me yesterday when I saw leather fly swatters for sale in a store!

    • Gavrielle

    Thanks so much for the tip about using the microwave to melt palm sugar! I’m far too lazy to enjoy grating it. I definitely should make this, as I do in fact have a clay pot – unopened, naturally! I have opened my slow cooker, though, as it’s excellent for steel-cut oats.

    • Charlotte

    David! Trying peeling ginger with a spoon, like you are shaving the skin off with the tip of the utensil. It saves time and cuts down on wasting so much ginger when peeling.

    • Steve L.

    Ah ha! It wasn’t just me who couldn’t access this post yesterday. Had me baffled.

    • Tam

    David I love your posts and books. I grew up eating caramelized chicken and tweaked my own version using common ingredients at hand. On medium to high heat, melt about 3 tablespoon of regular sugar in a heavy bottom pot or sauce pan (make sure pan is large enough for chicken to lay in single layer and not crowded) until sugar turns brown, then add ginger, pepper and black pepper, toss quickly. Add bone in and skin on chicken thighs chopped in half (it’s a little tricky to chop the thigh bone in half but a hardy whack from a chef’s knife at the middle of the thigh, then finish cutting through skin & meat). The bone adds a lot of flavor to the sauce & dish. Toss chicken in pan until coated with sauce of sugar & ginger. Add fish sauce to chicken and incorporate. Turn heat down to simmer for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked. As pieces are small it doesn’t take long to cook the chicken. Serve immediately with steamed rice and a side of vegetables. As there isn’t much sauce in this method, to extract as much flavor as possible, once chicken & sauce is removed add about a cup of hot steamed rice into the pan and sweep around every nook & cranny to pick up every bit of flavor, similar to deglazing the pan using steamed rice instead of liquid. Note: I don’t like the smell of fish sauce cooking in the house so I use salt while cooking everyday dishes, choosing to add a little fish sauce to the dish at the table.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks Tam, Yes, bone-in chicken is often more tasty and, in fact, Charles Phan said it was traditional to use it for this dish. However they generally serve it with a mix of boneless white and thigh meat, although occasionally run it with bone-in as a special, for those who don’t mind picking through. And yes – fish sauce can be, um…aromatic, so it’s best to keep the hood fan on.

    • Adriana

    Have you tried this with pork? Caramel Pork is standard fare in most Vietnamese restaurants.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I haven’t tried it with pork but it should work fine. If you try it, let us know how it works out.

    • Nikki

    One bit of advice …Sell the slow cooker or give it as a gift. NO need for a slow cooker if you have a dutch oven and an oven or better yet a pressure cooker.

    • nancy

    can you substitute soy sauce for the fish sauce (allergic to fish)

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      It would be very, very salty with that much soy sauce in it, so I wouldn’t try it. I might use a mixture of water or stock, and soy sauce, though, although I can’t give exact quantities because I haven’t tried it.

      (You might want to try this vegan fish sauce, which sounds interesting!)

    • Liz

    I use fish sauce in small quantities on Banh Mi or in stir-fried rice. However, it has a really strong smell and I worry that using so much in the sauce might be off-putting. Should I be concerned?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve made this three times in the past few weeks and liked it a lot (enough to share!) and these are the proportions used in the original recipe, although I upped the amount of sauce in general (and proportionally) because I found it needed a little extra sauce – at least to my taste.

    • Tom L

    Visited one of my local Asian markets; asked if they had palm sugar; nice clerk pointed to the boxes full of various choices. Bought the one that had 8 two ounce rounds in it for less than $2. Will make this tonight!

    • Zoe

    I have an Emile Henry clay stovetop flame 5.5qt. stewpot. I love it because it’s not near as heavy and Le Creuset and I can use it on my gas stovetop and/or oven. Everything I make in it turns out wonderful — I even bake bread in it. I gave one to my SIL who loves to cook and she uses it almost everyday.

    • Lucy

    Now it has come full circle and I understand your attraction to a post years ago about “Pain de Sucre” even though I was writing about the bitter green. Thanks for the chuckle and this recipe, David! Enjoy August!

    • rupa

    I’m an Indian, living in USA for the last 30 years. Palm sugar jaggery does exist,but for some reason it’s not sold in Indian groceries in USA. Probably because it is a regional product, available in certain parts of India, my home state is one, when I visit my family I lug home kilos of it in my suitcase and freeze it. The kind I bring is still with some liquid parts init, soft and part granular and color of darkest caramel and tastes divine.

      • Oonagh

      Yes I agree that palm sugar jaggery definitely exists. All Sri Lankan jaggery is palm sugar.

    • Carol

    thank you for fixing the link for the
    You are the best! And your recipe is much better than the one I found on-line. So many pictures!

    • Lee

    I have something called “jaggery powder” in my pantry. It looks like ground jaggery which i think is a kind of palm sugar. It’s easy to measure our as it has a dry consistency. I wonder if it will work. But of course one more exotic ingredient in my kitchen is always welcome.

    • Shelley

    So Romain can tell a shop keeper that his things are very expensive and everyone thinks it’s adorable but a reader can say they think you’re getting too far from your strength which is French and being an expat in Paris and you take my comment off. Maybe some of your other adoring readers think so too.

      • Frances

      David has always published an eclectic variety of recipes from around the world. I went back to the archives intending to count for you, but quickly realized that was a tiresome and pointless task. Suffice to say–there are A LOT of recipes on this site from around the world. Hundreds, surely, as a conservative estimate.

      • Elemjay

      Hey Shelley you know there’s a big Vietnamese community in France right?

        • Annie

        Adding to what @Elemjay wrote, the French were a big influence on Vietnamese cuisine, language, culture…

        @shelley, did you miss the rather impressive collection of recipes on this site that aren’t French? Personally, I always thought of David’s strengths as desserts (in all forms) and ice cream more than French cuisine and ex-pat in Paris. But as you scroll through the archives, you’ll realize that it’s not all about dessert or French food or even food. Don’t take it personally when your post is deleted. This isn’t your blog. It’s his and he can do whatever he darn well pleases.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for chiming in, Shelley. As some readers pointed out – and I had a cavalcade of emails to prove it – this post/recipe disappeared shortly after I published it. Your comment was on that post, along with a few others.

      It was a day where I was also trying to juggle a personal emergency, and I had a pretty intense 24 hours trying to get the post back up as well as deal with the personal situation. When I read your comment, to be honest, it made a difficult day feel even more difficult, and I chose to delete it. I am grateful that I don’t feel the need to delete many comments but the criticism came out a bad time so I made the decision while dealing with a few others things that were overwhelming me. So I apologize for not publishing your original comment. Now that things are back to normal – whew – I left your second comment up.

      I try to please a lot of people – I get requests for more dessert recipes, as well as complaints there are too many dessert recipes. Some readers point out grammatical or punctuation errors, or question a metric conversion, or mention a goof or gaffe I make in French (or English), and after keeping the blog going for nearly 16 years, I’ve come to realize that that’s all part of blogging.

      I realize that not everyone is going to want to make Vin de pêche (French cherry leaf wine), S’mores Pie (an all-American dessert), Fresh Corn Pancakes (from Chez Panisse), Man’oushe (Lebanese flatbread) or Chocolate Ice Cream, recipes I’ve featured as things that I was making at the moment.

      And while I hope people might be interested in a variety of foods from France, as well as from other cultures that intersect with France (including North Africa and Vietnam), not everyone is. But as another reader mentioned, I have (what I think) is a well-rounded archive of recipes, including Croissants, Confitures, and Confit…and more.

        • witloof

        Hey David, I hope you were able to resolve your issues. Just a note to say how much I enjoy coming here and to thank you.

        I had a blog about my work for a few years and the criticism and demands for free consultations got to be too much.

        • BananaBirkLarsen

        I just want to say that I really appreciate the variety of recipes and topics covered on your blog. The diversity is one of the things that keeps me coming back. Experimenting and trying new things is one of my favourite parts of cooking and not putting myself into a box in terms of what I make has made me an infinitely better cook than I was 2 or 5 or 10 years ago. I love that a pro embraces the same spirit of adventure!

        Also want to say to all the crock pot haters out there that I love my crock pot. Dutch ovens are wonderful, but you can’t leave them unattended for the same period of time. Plus crock pots don’t heat up the house on 100 degree summer days. Plus I make cream cheese in my crock pot. Plus it’s avocado green and only cost me $5 at a yard sale. Just sayin’.

          • lagatta à Montréal

          Mine cost me only $1 – and that’s a Cdn$ – at a community yard sale. I like it because I’ve actually burnt soup while working intensely in my home office, and the crockpot makes that highly unlikely.

          However, David doesn’t need one; I’m sure he has pots to make everything.

        • ilona

        Dear David! I would like to thank you for your nearly 16 years of blogging – although I have been following you for only about 10-11 years. I discovered you through a Hungarian food blog, the first food blog I ever read. Yours was one on her list of recommended sites. I tried several, and instantly became addicted to yours. I like when you post – about anything :) You and your blog helped me through some very difficult periods, and always gave me the ray of light. I often imagined bumping into you in Paris as a stranger, and telling you that personally, but maybe it is better not to keep postponing things like that, and because it might be a little frightening to be attacked by a grateful fan, I just would like to make it clear this way and now. Thanks

        • Sharon

        Just wanted to say that your food blog is wonderful – easily the best of the many that I follow, and while I can’t try that many recipes because of food intolerances, what you write is always inspiring. Thank you so much for all that you write here, and please take no heed of the commenters who want to dictate your choices.

      • Cris S.

      No one is forcing you to be an ‘adoring’ reader. This blog is free and it’s content is the choice of the blogger. It sounds like you would be happier elsewhere instead of choosing to look for offense and then spreading your dissatisfaction with life in a public forum.

      • g

      People keep posting comments on blogs (not just this one, lots of them) saying “I read your blog for X, and here you are posting about Y; please stop”.

      I have never once seen such a comment that actually added anything of value. Nor, so far as I can recall, have I ever known the response to be “Wow, you’re right, so I’ll immediately stop posting about the things that interest me unless they meet with your approval”. (Nor should it be.)

      David posts recipes, stories about Paris, reviews of food shops and restaurants, and whatever the hell else he wants. It’s his blog. If you enjoy what he posts, keep reading it. If you don’t, find other things that satisfy you better. If you used to but don’t any more, move on.

      (For what it’s worth, I find the recipes the *most* interesting things here. David should do with this information the same as he did with your complaint: ignore it completely.)

    • Elena

    I don’t reply too often, because of my very limited English, but I’ve made many of your recipes for my family.

    It is a pleasure to see how happy they are with them, and how many times they ask me when I will make another of your recipes.

    Thank you very much!

    • Donna Adams

    David, I made Charles Phan’s many years ago recipe from the San Francisco’s newspaper and his caramel sauce is so different with brown sugar, fish sauce rice vinegar garlic, soy sauce, ginger and chiles, I would always double the sauce, it is very delicious, I will try yours but with brown sugar, Thanks!

    • Lisa

    David, please know how much I enjoy reading about your life, the food you love and prepare, and the recipes you share. Cooking keeps me sane. I know it’s true for so many. Thank you:)

    • Amrita


    My mum usually makes a version, a Chinese version (to be precise), of this — with white sugar caramel, soy sauce and Mirin. But I can imagine the unctuousness that fish sauce will bring. Another genius recipe.

    • Alexandra

    I can’t wait to try this recipe as it sounds delicious. I have not used Thai chilies before…should I be using dried ones or can I find them fresh, say in Whole Foods? I’ve not noticed them before.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      You can find them dried of fresh, either work well in this recipe. You could also sneak in another kind of chile, if you can’t find Thai chiles. You’re looking to add some heat mostly, as a counterpoint to the palm sugar.

      As an aside, many Asian markets sell these kind of peppers in bulk, because they’re often used by the handful. So if you do find them sold that way, the rest can be stored in the freezer and used later.

      (Just don’t forget about them, like I sometimes do, and go out and buy more when I’ve already got a bag in the freezer!)

        • Alexandra

        Thank you!

    • DH

    I don’t think I’ve left a comment before but in view of Shelley’s comment, I wanted to state for the record, I’m sure on behalf of the majority of your readers here, that you have many strengths and I personally shall be making this dish tonight!

    I noticed the first posting went down but I just waited patiently for it to come back. Some people are so short tempered and irritable. I love all your recommendations and visited the Slanted Door last year in San Francisco with my sister as you had posted about it before and we both loved it. I bough their cookbook but just haven’t had a chance to cook from it yet. Please keep on posting any types of recipes you want and ignore all the grammatical tyrants and cranky people out there!

    • Gerlinde

    I enjoy reading your blog and every recipe I have tried has been great. Thank you so much ! The Slanted Door has a stall at the Ferry Building farmer’s market .

    • Jeannette

    I second everything that DH says, please keep your blog just as it is, one of my favourites!

    • Charlotte

    I’ve been reading your blog for at least ten years now, and I’m only thirty! While I’ve certainly used your recipes in the past and will continue to do so, I want to specifically highlight how much I love the variety of recipes you feature… even the recipes I am not inclined to try out. They are still interesting to read, and often I learn about new things. The care and attention to detail that you put into your blog and your books does not go unnoticed, and your abundance of readers are living proof.

    • Hillary Davis

    I am going to make this tonite!! Thank you for sharing the recipe!

    • tam

    I LOVE your posts, recipes, and general outlook on life. Please keep doing what you are doing because some of us look forward to your emails and whatever content, nationality, or stuff you are generous enough to share with us. I admire your bravery and love of food. Thank you for sharing.
    In response to someone’s question about using this recipe with pork. Caramelized protein (the Vietnamese word for this type of dish is Kho) of any kind has been done (fish, pork, pork belly and peeled hard boiled eggs, beef, ground meats, small bug like creatures – seriously, etc…). I recommend substituting green onion for ginger when cooking pork, garlic for beef, other herbs and spices you think suit the protein. Also the hot pepper is very optional. My favorite Kho is with bone-in catfish chunks and copious amounts of ginger. At home I’ve made it with salmon fillets so the children don’t have to content with fish bones.
    Thank you allowing me to live in Paris vicariously through your blog.

    • E. Alyson

    I remember the original Slanted Door on Valencia… a hole in the wall and a amazing neighborhood find. It’s still amazing at it’s current Embarcadero location, so thanks for the memories and I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. It’s still one of my all time favorite recommendations for anyone visiting SFO.

    • Claire

    Hi David,
    I’m a big fan! This looked so good that I gave it a try today. I used genuine palm sugar from Thailand, weighed the amount, stirred it continuously over a medium heat until I was sure it was all melted, then removed it from the heat and added the 2/3 cup fish sauce. The sugar seized and lumped up and wouldn’t blend with the fish sauce at all. Could you please give me some advice on what might have gone wrong? Should I have warmed the fish sauce? Many thanks.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Claire, I made this 3 times and didn’t have that problem. (The picture in the post is what mine looked like when I made it the first time.) I mentioned in a previous comment that if the sugar does seize, you should be able to just add the chicken and warm the ingredients together, and the caramel (and lumps) should eventually melt. I did add to the instructions to add the fish sauce gradually, but it should smooth out once everything is added, when rewarmed. Hope that helps!

        • Claire

        Thanks for your reply and advice David, I will add the fish sauce more gradually next time – I’ve already bought some more palm sugar to give it a go :-)

    • Connie

    Hi David:

    How do you think the chicken would turn out if it was cooked in a large-ish wok? Although I have a nice dutch oven and large sauté pan, I’m trying to use my wok more often.

    Also wanted to chime in and say that I’m sorry to hear you had a difficult day. I’m happy to see this recipe back up, and wanted to add that I love all the recipes that you share – whether they’re Thai, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, Japanese, American, Korean, “Cal-Med”, Italian… (you get the idea). I always tell people that your recipes are no fail bulletproof and thoroughly tested for us home cooks. Thank you.

      • Annie

      @Connie, yes, you can use a wok. My mother did. She also used a claypot, sauce pan, and a dutch oven. I don’t think the cooking vessel matters as long as you get the caramelization step right.

    • Sarah

    I am a somewhat longtime reader, and just wanted to state my appreciation for the variety of recipes you feature here. I have made several of the desserts (spiced plum cake, ginger crunch, various brownies, baci di dama, lemon bars, jam tart, blueberry cobbler…), usually with great results. You have introduced me to new things (including this caramel chicken), and I always look forward to seeing what you will come up next. Please don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

    • Sallie Beheri

    Hello David. I have been following your blog for more than 5 years. We, you and I share 2 things in common; San Francisco where I live now (Marin County) and I also used to live in Paris in the seventies. Your French anecdotes about les marchés et la vie quotidienne de Paris, always make me feel nostalgic, warm and fuzzy about notre ville bien-aimée. Meilleurs vœux

    • Jessica Schreiber

    No good deed goes unpunished. I first discovered your blog when I found your chocolate pecan caramel crunch for a Passover Seder. Then I discovered you were based in Paris where I was moving and read your delightful Sweet Life in Paris. I am a longtime fan of your blog and made too many of your recipes to name. Your blog is a gift to chefs everywhere. Anyway who has cause to criticize your free offerings should go to another site. If you don’t have anything nice to say…

    • Teddi

    I just read your newsletter. I would love for you to visit us in Portland, OR at Powell’s bookstore. I have contacted them and asked that they try to get on your schedule. You have a lovely relaxed writing style that makes me feel I am sitting in the corner of your kitchen or standing just behind you at the market. Such a nice escape from the events of the day.

    • sillygirl

    Just some feedback – I was making your recipe for socca the other day – things got in the way so I put the batter in the fridge over two nights and finally made it the third day out – it was tastier than it has ever been before!

    • Jeff

    Your recipe indicates one should chop the palm sugar. The palm sugar I got is like granulated brown sugar and doesn’t need chopping. Have you encountered this type of palm sugar? OK to use in this recipe? Merci!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      There’s been a lot of interest in coconut and palm sugar lately, and I’ve seen granulated versions are becoming more popular, as people can use them more easily for baking and cooking. I haven’t used them (I haven’t seen them in France) but my recommendation might be to try melting some and see how it works. If not, try adding some of the fish sauce and see if that helps it melt. You may need to “hack” the recipe, but it’s pretty forgiving. Let me know how your trials turn out!

    • Michael in DC

    Thanks for this recipe, David. I was in San Francisco last week, and unf did not order this dish the night we went to The Slanted Door. But I bought the stuff and made it tonight. Only, I used the same brand of fish sauce pictured above, Red Boat, and it was terribly salty. The chicken tasted good, but the sauce was inedible. According to the label, 1 tbsp is 60% of the RDA for sodium. I followed the recipe to the letter – including 2/3 cup of the fish sauce. Anyone have a suggestion for desalinization?
    BTW, I also ate Chez Panisse, last week, and it was one of the loveliest meals I’ve ever eaten. Thanks for all you do, David!

    • Marci Fredericksen

    David, I followed your recipe exactly (almost) and made the most delicious dish! Using granulated coconut palm sugar (couldn’t find solid palm sugar in my small town of Port Townsend, WA), I added a small amount of water to assist in the melting process. The Red Boat Fish Sauce provided a perfect counter to the caramel sweet sugar, and the chicken thighs were so tender and perfectly cooked after 10 minutes. I served the dish with rice and sauteed haricots verts. This easily makes enough for 4, so I froze the remainder for next time. Thanks again for another yummy recipe!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for your feedback and glad you liked the recipe!

    • Eliza

    Chicken was delicious but I need a new Pyrex jug…how on earth do you remove the melted sugar?

      • Eliza

      Well! I answered my own question: water and dish soap in the jug, half fill and microwave on high for 2-3 mins.. Comes away clean. I posted this recipe on my FB page. It is SO good. Thank you

    • Natalie

    For anyone who seizes their caramel I can attest that it will still work just fine.

    Despite trying 6 different ways to screw this up it turned our really good! I doubled the recipe ( I had 3lbs of chicken thighs to use), realized I only had 13.5oz of palm sugar so I scaled it down 22%. I added the fish sauce too quickly and seized the caramel. Frustrated I threw the chicken and seized caramel in the pot and watched it melt perfectly. I then realized that I forgot the shallots and ginger. Found that I was out of shallots, so I just added the ginger to the pot of chicken/caramel. It tasted kind of flat, so I added a bulb of caramelized garlic from the fridge. In the end everyone thought it was pretty good. I am sure it would have been fantastic if I followed directions, lol.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Glad it worked out for you in the end!


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