Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

What you always wish take-out will taste like but sadly never does, this intensely sweet and savory peppered chicken is a spectacular dish with a hint of its Vietnamese heritage.


  • dark brown sugar  ·  1/2 cup 
  • fish sauce (nam pla)  ·  1/4 cup 
  • water  ·  1/4 cup 
  • rice vinegar  ·  3 tablespoons 
  • minced garlic  ·  1 teaspoon 
  • finely grated fresh ginger  ·  1 teaspoon 
  • coarsely ground pepper  ·  1 teaspoon 
  • fresh Thai chilies, halved, or dried red chilies  ·  2 
  • canola oil  ·  1 tablespoon 
  • shallot, thinly sliced  ·  1 
  • skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces  ·  1 pound 
  • cilantro sprigs  ·  4 


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 for about 4 minutes until softened.

Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken and simmer over high heat for about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the cilantro and serve.

Because fish sauces vary in their saltiness, add the fish sauce to taste.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Tommy’s Tips

I found that using a wok is the best way to prepare this recipe; although any deep skillet or large sauté pan will work.

Make sure that all your ingredients are ready to go when you start cooking the chicken pieces.

After you remove the chicken from the pan you can reduce the sauce to the consistency you like or add a combination of cornstarch and water “slurry” (1 teaspoon of cornstarch to 1 teaspoon water)

Entice Cuvée

Entice Cuvée

A delightful, well-bred Bordeaux style red wine with a paradoxically enticing manner of managing strong peppery spices in foods and drawing out the true essence of the primary food flavor.

Ginger (ground)

Ginger (ground)

A very high quality, aromatic ginger with lots of flavor.