I haven't made this dish in quite a while, probably almost a year now. That's because it is so easy to mess up the sauce. I always had trouble keeping the sugar from crystallizing, but I heard a tip on Good Eats (i think) that by adding corn syrup to the sugar that you are caramelizing it will keep it from forming crystals. And it worked! So here it is...
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken
3/4 c sugar
2 T corn syrup
1/4 c water
2 T soy sauce
10 dashes sesame oil
4-6 frozen chicken breasts
salt and pepper
4 T fresh ginger chopped (if you can't find fresh, I've used crystallized ginger too)
2 T garlic, chopped
4 green onions (white part)
pinch of red pepper flakes
green onion (green part)
Over med-high heat, pour sugar in the middle of a high-sided sauce pan. Pour 1/4c water around edge.
This is where you will be tempted to stir the sugar into the water, but you can't! I know you're thinking, "I bet nothing would happen if I stirred the sugar," but you'd be wrong! This is where the sugar could crystallize. You don't want the sugar to touch the sides of the pan. Once the middle mound of sugar has soaked up water, you can add the corn syrup and wait for it all to boil.
After about 5-10 min it should look like this.
Now you need to get your 1/3 c water ready. You can't walk away from this sauce because once it starts to turn caramel color it gets dark fast and if it gets too dark it tastes burnt. You just want a nice mahogany color. As soon as it's the color above, turn off the heat and add the 1/3c water. Be careful! It will spatter! So turn your head away while you add the water. Once it has quit spitting at you you can add the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Set aside.
Now for the chicken.....
Heat 1 T of oil in a skillet and brown the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Once it has browned on one side you can add the garlic, white onion, ginger, and red pepper. Once the chicken is cooked through you can pour the sauce over the chicken and simmer for 10-15 min turning the chicken every couple minutes to soak up the sauce color.
Garnish with green onion, cilantro, and basil.
Serve with rice.