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Vietnamese Chicken with Cucumber Pickles and Fried Shallots 

Serves 8

Ingredients for the Chicken

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup Vietnamese Fish Sauce* (nuoc mam)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 6 tsp. sambal olek
  • Grated zest from 2 limes
  • Fresh juice from 2 limes
  • 6 medium garlic cloves minced
  • 5 packed Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 4 Tbs. neutral vegetable oil (such as canola or safflower)
  • 4 lbs. bone in, skin on chicken thighs
  • Pickled Cucumbers (See below)
  • Fried Shallots (See below)

Method for the Chicken

  • Mix all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a large non-reactive bowl.
  • Add the chicken thighs.
  • Marinate for 4 to 6 hours. Turn the chicken every hour.
  • Toward the end of the margination process, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Set the rack to the middle position.
  • Remove the chicken and place on a rack fitting neatly over a jelly roll pan.
  • Discard the remaining marinade.
  • Bake chicken for about 40 minutes until chicken thighs register at 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Remove pan from oven and hold chicken on the rack until serving time.
  • Just before serving, turn on the broiler and place the chicken back in the oven in order to crisp up the chicken skin.

The night before you plan to serve the chicken (or up to 6 hours before), prepare the Pickled Cucumbers and Chinese Chives.

Pickled Cucumbers and Chinese Chives


  • 2 lbs. Persian cucumbers
  • Generous amount of salt
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • A small bunch of Chinese chives finely minced
  • A large knob of ginger, peeled and minced.  

Up to a day before or at least six hours prior to serving, prepare the cucumbers.


  • Slice each cucumber very finely, about 1/8” per slice
  • Place layers of cucumbers in a non-reactive bowl, adding a layer of Kosher salt per cucumber layer (Be generous)
  • After at least 3 hours, a great deal of liquid will have leached out of the cucumbers
  • Wash the cucumbers to remove the excess salty water. 
  • Place the pickled cucumbers in a clean dishcloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  • Add the prepared pickles to a clean, non-reactive glass bowl.
  • Add the rice vinegar, sugar, the ginger and the minced Chinese chives to the pickles.
  • Allow to marinate for at least 3 hours.
  • Remove from the marinade with a slotted spoon. Serve alongside the Vietnamese Chicken

Fried Shallots


  • 3 -4 large shallots
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 cup grapeseed or other vegetable oil suitable for frying


  • Slice the shallots as thinly as possible and separate into rings.
  • Place in a shallow plate or bowl with the flour and the paprika.
  • Coat the shallots lightly and remove from the flour, shaking off the excess.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan until simmering, about 275 degrees.
  • Add the flour-coated shallots and fry until light brown. Remove immediately to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  • Best to be made while the chicken is baking as shallots become greasy if stored too long.

*Vietnamese Fish Sauce is made primarily from anchovies and salt and is lighter in taste than Thai Fish Sauce.