Spiced Chicken with Coconut-Caramel Sauce and Citrus Salad


Jean-Georges Vongerichten cleverly rethinks a classic Southeast Asian sauce not by what he adds, but by what he leaves out. Instead of a rich curry paste, he creates a creamy sauce with a caramel base, coconut milk and fish sauce. Slideshow: Classic Southeast Asian Recipes 

Spiced Chicken with Coconut-Caramel Sauce and Citrus Salad
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 20 mins


  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Cayenne pepper

  • 4 skin-on boneless chicken breast halves

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

  • 1 Thai green chile, minced

  • Salt

  • 1 grapefruit—peeled with a knife, sectioned and diced

  • 1 lime—peeled with a knife, sectioned and diced

  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced cilantro

  • Fleur de sel, for garnish


  1. In a bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of the sugar with the coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. Rub the spices on the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, mix the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the water and bring to a boil. Simmer until an amber caramel forms, 10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the coconut milk until the caramel dissolves. Add the fish sauce and chile; let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the sauce and season with salt.

  3. In a medium bowl, gently toss the fruits with a pinch each of salt and cayenne.

  4. Light a grill. Rub the chicken with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until the skin is charred and the chicken is white throughout, 12 minutes. Transfer to plates along with the fruit salad and sauce. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the cilantro and fleur de sel and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy, ripe Pinot Blanc.

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