A Vietnamese kho is a savory-sweet dish simmered in a caramel-based sauce and is traditionally prepared in a clay pot. It's the ultimate comfort food for me. There are many variations of kho with different proteins used. My favorite kho is ga kho xa ot, which is chicken quickly braised with lemongrass and chili peppers.
Nothing beats my mom's ga kho xa ot! Whenever I visit my parents, it's the first thing my mom prepares for me. I don't ask for it. She just knows it's my favorite meal and I would be a little disappointed if she made anything else. Yes, my mom spoils me. I have no problem admitting it!
I love the dish for its simplicity and wonderful flavors. It has a great combination of salty and sweet from the fish sauce and caramel sauce. While the chicken simmers, the lovely aroma of lemongrass fills the kitchen. The spiciness from the chili peppers is critical and balances the sweetness of the dish.
The best part of the ga kho xa ot is the flavorful sauce that goes fantastically over rice with a few dashes of Crystal Extra Hot Hot Sauce. Give me a bowl of rice and mix in just ga kho sauce and I would be a happy camper. The sauce is that good!
In my family, we serve ga kho xa ot with a side of steamed vegetables, usually cabbage. This may sound bland, but once you dip the cabbage in the chicken sauce there's no need for any other seasoning.
Hungry Bear has asked, "If you had to choose one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?" Her choice is fried rice. I could never give her a definitive answer, because I like to eat everything... life is a big buffet for me. But I'm finally going on the record and stating that it would be my mom's ga kho xa ot!
Spicy Lemongrass Chicken (Ga Kho Xa Ot) Recipe
The recipe calls for both bone-in and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The chicken bones will add a little extra flavor. If you prefer using only boneless, skinless chicken thighs, reduce the braising time by 5-8 minutes in step 3. The quantity of chili peppers is up to your discretion. We usually use 1 habanero pepper instead of the Thai chilies.
1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
5 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 1/2 lemongrass stalks (7-8 tablespoons), trimmed, chopped finely
1-2 Thai chili peppers, diced
1) Remove all fat from chicken thighs and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Cut around chicken bone and leave the bone whole. In a large bowl, add 3/4 tablespoon sugar, fish sauce, black pepper and mix with chicken chunks and bone.
2) In a medium pot, dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in vegetable oil over medium-low heat, being careful not to burn. After a few minutes, the mixture will turn a dark caramel color; immediately stir in onions and chicken. After 4-5 minutes, add lemongrass and chili peppers.
3) Reduce heat to low, cover pot and braise at a low simmer for 18-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Stir the chicken every 5-7 minutes. The juice from the chicken will release and increase the volume of the sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve over jasmine rice and a side of steamed vegetables.
Makes 6 servings
Spicy Ginger Chicken (Ga Kho Gung Ot)
Follow the recipe for ga kho xa ot, substituting 5 ounces chopped ginger for the lemongrass.
[tags]vietnamese, braised, chicken, lemongrass, spicy, habanero, chili pepper, kho, caramel sauce[/tags]