My first version of this dish was called honey ginger chicken with lemon juice. I thought I created something original. In fact, I found it amusing that it was inspired by Halls candy — you know, the honey lemon flavored ones?
Little did I know that honey ginger dishes are common in Vietnam. There is honey ginger chicken, honey ginger prawns and honey ginger pork. Citrus juice, however, does not seem to be included among the ingredients. Personally, I think that a little tanginess makes the overall flavor more interesting.
About the citrus. By default, we use kaffir lime at home because we have a kaffir lime tree. Regular limes will do equally well in this recipe. You may even substitute lemons but ONLY IF you can’t get limes. Limes are much more aromatic than lemons.
Tartness added, for a little zing, I threw in some chilies as well. The resulting flavor is as complex as it is pleasing.
Honey ginger lime chicken
- In a thick-bottomed frying pan, boil a cup of water.
- When the water is boiling, arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer (adding the chicken to already boiling water minimizes the formation of scum).
- Add the ginger, chilies and lime zest.
- Pour in the fish sauce.
- Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the liquid would have reduced considerably.
- Pour in the lime juice and honey.
- Cook over high heat, uncovered, turning the chicken thighs often until the sauce browns and thickens. Watch the chicken carefully at this stage — the fast-thickening sauce burns fast because of the honey.
- When the liquid has evaporated and all there is left is a thick caramelized sticky sauce coating the chicken, lift the chicken pieces one by one and transfer to a serving platter, making sure that the fibrous grated ginger stays in the wok. You don’t it need anymore — all the ginger-y flavors are already in the chicken.
- Garnish with thin strips of scallioned and julienned red bell pepper.
- Serve hot with rice.