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Vietnamese Caramelised Ginger Chicken – Ga Kho Gung

Ga Kho Gung, a classic Vietnamese ginger chicken side dish, is a testament to the rich culinary tradition of Vietnam. This dish features bite-sized pieces of chicken, which are meticulously braised and caramelized with generous amounts of ginger. The chicken is cooked in a sweet and savory fish-sauce-based sauce, an iconic component in Vietnamese cuisine, lending the dish its distinctive, mouthwatering flavor profile. Despite its seemingly intricate preparation, Ga Kho Gung is fairly straightforward to make at home, making it a favorite among both novice and experienced cooks.

Making a Vietnamese Caramelised Ginger Chicken dish, or Ga Kho Gung as it’s known in Vietnam, is an artful process that rewards adventurous cooks with both its complexity and deliciousness. This traditional delicacy is packed with flavor and aroma, thanks to the combination of savory sauces and spices used in preparation. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the ingredients and methods used to create this delectable dish, so you too can experience its wonders.


To make a traditional Ga Kho Gung, you’ll need both fresh and dried spices as well as some other common ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1kg/2lb of chopped chicken (You can also purchase a whole chicken and chop it yourself)
  • 1 large ginger root, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder/ vegetable stock powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of coconut water (optional)

Preparation and Cooking Instructions

Marinate the chicken

Start off by marinating the chopped chicken with some minced garlic, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tsp chicken stock powder,1 tablespoon of sugar and sliced ginger strips. Let this sit for about 20 minutes.

The Caramelisation Process

Following the marinade, the next essential step involves caramelization. Here’s how you do it:

  • Heat up a wok or a large pan over medium heat. Then, add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar to the pan. Let the sugar melt slowly; don’t stir it till it starts to melt. This process will lead to the formation of a beautiful caramel, which is a key component that gives Ga Kho Gung its signature deep, golden-brown color.
  • Once your sugar starts to melt, continue to let it cook until it reaches a dark amber color. Remember, you want to heat it on medium-high, not too high as this could lead to burning. This caramelization process is an important step in achieving the rich and deep flavor that characterizes Ga Kho Gung, but it does not contribute additional sweetness to the dish, as the sugar is melted beyond the sweet caramel stage. Keep a close eye on your pan during this stage to ensure the sugar doesn’t burn.

Braising the Chicken

After the caramel is ready, it’s time to add the chicken to the pan.

  • Carefully add the marinated chicken pieces to the caramelized sugar. Stir well to ensure that all the chicken pieces are evenly coated with the caramel. Keep stirring for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  • Then, add the remaining fish sauce, soy sauce, and optional coconut water to the pan. The liquid should be just enough to cover the chicken.
  • If you are not using coconut water, you can replace it with regular filtered water. However, the coconut water does enhance the richness of the chicken.
  • Cover the pan and let it simmer for about 30 minutes on low heat or until the liquid has reduced and thickened into a glaze. During this time, the chicken will become tender and fully absorb the flavors of the sauce.

Remember to occasionally stir the chicken to prevent sticking and to ensure the flavors are well distributed. After about 30 minutes or when the chicken is cooked, add some additional sliced ginger, pepper, chili and give it a try and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Stir it well and let it cook for about 5 more minutes.

By the end of this process, your Ga Kho Gung will have a rich, deep flavor with a hint of sweetness and the warming spice of ginger.

Serve it with steamed white rice and enjoy the beautiful flavor of this traditional Vietnamese dish!

Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure you use a low to medium heat when caramelizing the sugar, as too high of a heat can cause it to burn.
  • The caramelization step is critical and can be easily messed up; so, exercise caution and don’t hesitate to start over if the sugar gets clumped or burnt. This is important because it can considerably affect the taste of the chicken dish.
  • To facilitate the caramelization process, it’s recommended to use a non-stick pan. If you find that your caramel has become too thick but not yet burnt, simply add a little water, then add the chicken and stir it around.
  • If you want to make your dish sweeter, add some additional sugar to the sauce. Alternatively, if you’d like a stronger, saltier flavor, then try adding some more fish sauce.
  • If possible, marinate the chicken overnight and store it in the refrigerator. This allows the chicken to fully absorb the flavors of the marinade, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
    Be sure to taste test throughout the cooking process so you can adjust the seasonings as needed.

How To Store

Once you’ve finished cooking your Ga Kho Gung, make sure to store it properly. Place the chicken in an airtight container and let it cool down completely before refrigerating. It will keep well for 3-4 days if kept in the refrigerator. If you don’t plan on consuming it all at once, then freeze it for up to one month.

But remember, storing it in the refrigerator for too long can diminish the quality of the dish. So, it’s best to consume it as soon as possible.

Storing Ga Kho Gung in the refrigerator can cause the sauce to thicken and alter the taste of the dish. When you’re ready to eat it, reheat the chicken on the stove, rather than using a microwave. Add a little bit of water if necessary to thin out the sauce. During this process, taste it and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.


Vietnamese Caramelised Ginger Chicken or Ga Kho Gung is a deeply flavorful side dish that showcases the complexity and richness of Vietnamese cuisine. This classic dish, while seemingly involved, is actually quite easy to make at home using only a few simple ingredients. So, give it a try today for an authentic taste of Vietnamese culture!


Can I Use A Different Type Of Meat?

You can certainly use different types of meat for this recipe. The caramelization process outlined here is versatile and can be applied to various meats. For example, duck or pork can be a great substitute for chicken. Remember, the key is to adjust the cooking time as different meats may require different braising times for optimal tenderness and flavor.

Does Ginger Make The Dish Taste Spicy Or Overpowering?

Ginger is a key component of Ga Kho Gung and brings a unique and warming flavor to the dish. While it does have a slight heat, it’s not typically perceived as spicy like chili peppers would be. As for an overpowering aroma, it largely depends on the amount of ginger used. If used in moderation, it lends a pleasing aroma and depth of flavor to the dish without being overpowering. However, if too much is used, it can dominate other flavors. So, it’s important to adjust the amount of ginger according to personal preference.