Chicken in Tart Garlic Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    3 or 4

Appears in

I had this at a Shan restaurant in Hsipaw and fell in love with it. The sauce that bathes the chicken is tangy with a little lime juice and aromatic with garlic and ginger. Fresh green cayenne chiles give noticeable heat.

You can make this with boneless chicken or chicken on the bone. Serve with new potatoes or rice.


  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • About 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 or 5 green cayenne chiles, each slit lengthwise several times
  • 1 pound boneless chicken, cut into approximately ½-inch pieces, rinsed, or about pounds chicken legs and/or breasts, cut into small pieces (see A Note on Chopped Chicken) and rinsed well
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup minced scallion greens or coriander leaves (optional)


If you have a mortar, pound the garlic and ginger together to a paste with a pinch of salt.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or a wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until softened. Add the chiles and cook a minute longer, then raise the heat to high. Add the chicken pieces and cook, turning and stirring to expose all surfaces to the hot oil, about 4 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and stir, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (chicken on the bone will take a little longer). Remove from the heat and add the lime juice.

Sprinkle on the scallion greens or cilantro, if you wish. Serve hot or at room temperature.