Vietnamese Caramel Chilli Chicken

From Ainsley’s Good Mood Food, ITV

Sticky, sweet and spicy – what more could you want?! This Vietnamese-inspired chicken dish is fabulous and packed full of flavour. It’s so easy to make and all in one-pan so it’s perfect for a mid-week meal. I’m using skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs, but you can use bone-less if you prefer, just adjust the cooking times accordingly.


Season the chicken thighs. Heat the oil in a large heavy non-stick frying pan or skillet with a lid over a medium-high heat. Fry the chicken, skin-side down for 6-8 minutes, until golden and the skin has crisped up. Turn the chicken and cook for a further 4-6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, pepper and chilli. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and 1 tablespoon of coconut water. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar has caramelized.

Add the lime juice and remaining coconut water and bring to the boil. Part-cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook over a medium heat allowing the sauce to bubble away for a further 10-14 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and you have a thickened and sticky sauce.

Meanwhile place the pak choi in a steamer over a pan of simmering water for 2 minutes until just wilted and tender (or blanch for 1-2 minutes in boiling water). Season with a little soy sauce.

Transfer the chicken to a plate, drizzle over the sauce and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Serve with the pak choi and steamed rice and garnish with coriander and chilli rings.



  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 6-8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • 5 cm fresh root ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed, finely sliced
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 heaped tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 150ml coconut water (or light coconut milk/chicken stock)
  • To Serve
  • 4 baby pak choi, rinsed and cut in half lengthways
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander or mint
  • steamed rice