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Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Caramel Sauce



  1. 1 cup lukewarm water
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  5. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  6. 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  8. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  9. 6 stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, smashed and minced (about 1/4 cup)
  10. 1/2 medium onion, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  11. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  12. 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  13. 1 medium carrot, cut into very thin matchsticks
  14. 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  15. 1/4 cup chicken broth
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water with the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil without stirring until an amber caramel syrup forms, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the remaining 1/2 cup of water. Boil until the caramel is syrupy, about 4 minutes longer. Swirl in the lemon juice. Transfer the caramel sauce to a medium bowl.
  2. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce with the cornstarch and pepper; add the chicken and stir to coat.
  3. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until smoking. Add the lemongrass, onion, garlic and ginger and stir-fry over high heat until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken turns white, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot, the remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, the cayenne and 3 tablespoons of the caramel sauce and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the chicken is glazed, about 4 minutes. Stir in the broth, simmer for 30 seconds and serve.