I love cookbooks. Just about any kind of cookbook really. The silly little paperback ones in the grocery store that you thumb through while you wait and try to decide is it really worth $5, for me it never is. The really old cookbooks you can sometimes find at Goodwill where the families all have 4 people and they call for monosodium glutamate. And I really like cookbooks from the library.
It’s like the best of all worlds, you get to try the recopies, copy down the ones you like, ignore the ones you don’t, and then you return it. You don’t have another cookbook in your house taking up space with recipes you’re never going to try and you don’t have to spend any money to buy it.
But there is one drawback to working with recipes from books. Unless it tells you, you never can know where a recipe comes from. Even though the recipe has some Asian ingredients, I just assumed it was an American recipe, I mean; Food Network has started to suggest using soy sauce as a salt alternative, that’s totally Asian. By the way, have you ever looked at how much sodium is in soy sauce, I don’t think it’s an improvement.
But where things come from is important. It puts things in cultural context, it helps you understand a lot more about the food, for instance, when I first got this recipe it called for breast meat, which made it really dry. Since I like dark meat better, I had already started substituting sliced thigh meat when I was talking to some people from Vietnam and realized that this was a made-easy version of Ga Kho Gung.
I really want to try the authentic Vietnamese recipe, coming soon, in addition to what the Amrican version calls for it also has coconut water, and coconut is one of my favorite things.
But this is still one of my favorite recipes. It cooks really fast, within 30 minutes if you’re using cut chicken, while the authentic recipe calls for an overnight marinating step, and it re-heats really well,. I almost always have all these ingredients in my house so it’s something, not from a box, that I can really easily cook up just about any time. And one time I took it to a BBQ and the kids kept coming back wanting more. If the kids like it over hotdogs, you know it’s good.
1 lb chicken, or 4 legs
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
If you don’t have ginger garlic paste you can use 1 tablespoon each of fresh garlic and ginger. If you want to use powdered ginger, use 2 tablespoons.
½ teaspoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 fresh chili
Traditionally this recipe should be cooked with boned chicken, but you can also use 1 inch pieces of boneless. If you decide to do that, you might want to add a little more soy sauce because boneless chicken will dry out much faster.
First finely chop the onion. I really like onions a lot, so I used an extra onion, another reason is that by the time you’re done you end up cooking your onions down to practically nothing and a little bit more is a good thing.
Deskin the chicken legs. An easy way to deskin chicken, which is something I hate to do and usually make my boyfriend do, is to deskin it under running HOT water. Hold the leg firmly in one hand, and take the loose skin around the thickest part of the leg and pull. As long as you keep it under the hot water, it’ll be a little like pulling of a tight boot.
Heat around 3 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan until it is hot. Fry the onions for about 30 seconds or until they are just translucent. Add the chicken legs and cook, stirring and turning the chicken occasionally, until the onions are golden.
Add the ginger garlic paste and sprinkle the five spice powder over the chicken. Stir well, try to coat the chicken. Cook on high heat for about 2 minutes or until the chicken starts to brown and it can be pierced with a fork easily at its thickest part.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, honey, and black pepper. Stir well; especially make sure the honey gets well incorporated. Turn heat down and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
At this point, the chicken should be done, and since the leg bone insulates heat, it’ll cook pretty fast. At the same time, since I can’t actually see if the chicken is done I tend to go for the cooked to death approach instead of risking eating undercooked chicken. When the chicken starts to pull away from the bone you can be pretty sure that it’s done cooking, and it’s time to enjoy.
Just as a note do not use this recipe to cook chicken that has been frozen unless it has been defrosted for several hours. You are depending on the bone in order to cook the chicken from the inside out, but if the chicken bone is cold, then it won’t insulate the meat and the inside won’t cook as fast as the outside.
Finely dice the chili and use as a garnish. Personally, I’m a fan of my food being pretty spicy so I used 3.
Eat with rice and serve with any remaining onions.
In total, takes about 30-45 minutes. This honestly has to be one of the fastest cooking dishes I’ve ever made.