Before marrying my husband I don’t think I had ever cooked with (or heard of) fish sauce. And man, if you’ve ever smelled this anchovy-based seasoning – Ewwwwww. How can something that smells so foul turn into something that flavors so beautifully. But it does. So with our union, and the introduction of his Asian-roots into our home, a shift in much of our cuisine occurred. I now go through quite a few bottles of this stuff. Red Boat Fish Sauce is my fav. It’s lacking in artificial ingredients and just a good quality choice. My local grocery carries other brands, but often with ingredients I don’t like crossing this home’s threshold. If you are Paleo – I’m told this one is “Paleo Approved”.  Well, actually, I read it in one of my favorite cookbooks: Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam. I no longer keep many actual cookbooks in my library, but this one is a must if you want healthy cuisine with an asian flare. (Allow me to squirrel for a moment: I’m SO excited for her new cookbook coming out in August called Ready or Not! It’s already on my pre-order list!)

This particular recipe is extremely easy. The only real prep work is cubing the chicken, grating the ginger, and mincing the shallot & garlic. And, truth be told, I’ve found I cannot tell a difference (usually) with freshly grated/minced ginger or garlic vs. the pre-made stuff I can purchase at the store. So I’ve been buying it already prepped & keep in in my fridge.  For recipes calling for freshly minced or grated ginger I get something similar to this Minced Ginger product at Sprouts.

I adapted this recipe from, which called for thighs, but I much prefer breast. Either works well.  This recipe pairs well with Miso Roasted Cauliflower or any roasted veggies.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 3-4


  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 dried red chilies, halved (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 shallot, minced (or 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Cilantro or green onion and sesame seeds for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and chiles. Set aside.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large deep pan.
  3. Add the shallots and cook until soft (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add the cubed chicken pieces and the reserved sauce. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  5. Simmer until the chicken is fully cooked then use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked chicken from the pan.
  6. Increase the heat and continue simmering the sauce until it has reduced by half (it should have a syrupy consistency). Add the chicken back into the pan and toss to coat.
  7. 7. Garnish with cilantro or green onion & sesame seeds and serve with rice or veggies.


recipe adapted from

Receive Updates

No spam guarantee.