Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Cabbage Salad | DonalSkehan.com
  • summer

Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken Thighs with Spicy Cabbage Salad

August 21

Some of my favourite food memories are from my first travels to Southeast Asia, a true voyage of discovery after years of poring over cookbooks and attempting to recreate classic dishes at home. Needless to say, nothing quite compares to sitting on plastic stools on the roadside shoulder to shoulder with the locals eating bun cha with smokey fatty pork over noodles in Hanoi or guzzling down down spicy som tum papaya salad on the streets of Bangkok. However I do my best to recreate elements of those experiences back home, with slightly more limited ingredients. This dish encapsulates some of my favourite aspects of South East Asian cuisine, that heady combination of salty, sweet, sour, spicy and bitter ingredients brought to life in the form of caramel roast chicken rich in a fish sauce caramel, served alongside a vibrant herb laden fresh cabbage salad with plenty of bite.

  • serves Serves 4
  • time


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.
  2. 2. Place a large high-sided, oven proof frying pan (snug enough to fit all the thighs without too much space) over a medium high heat. Add in the sugar and 3 tablespoons of water and cook for just a minute or so, swirling the pan occasionally until you are left with a dark caramel. Add in the chicken thighs (skin side down), garlic, chilli and ginger, turning to coat completely in the mixture.
  3. 3. Pour in 3tbsp more of water alongside fish sauce and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a steady simmer. Place the pan in the oven to cook for 35-45 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Turn the chicken halfway through the cooking time to ensure it doesn’t stick. Remove from the heat and garnish with coriander and spring onion.
  4. 4. While the chicken cooks, prepare the salad. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. 5. Add the remaining ingredients and toss through until well combined.
  6. 6. Serve the chicken and salad to the table and devour!

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3 tbsp dark brown sugar

8 small chicken thighs, skin on, bone in, trimmed of excess fat

6 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, julienned

1 red chilli, finely sliced

3 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Coriander leaves and thinly sliced spring onion, to serve

For the Vietnamese salad:

Juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp dark brown sugar

½ head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced on mandolin

100g bean sprouts

6 spring onions, finely sliced

1 red chilli

Small bunch each of coriander, thai basil & mint, leaves picked

100g of roasted peanuts, crushed in a pestle and mortar