Don’t angst over the recherche-sounding herbs - anything sharp and fresh works well.
Fry the chicken in the oil in batches until lightly browned and slightly crisped at the edges. Remove and keep to one side. Add the shallots to the pan and soften in the oil, then add the sugar and gently cook until the mixture turns a rich-brown colour. Watch it doesn’t burn. Pour in the fish sauce and stir. Add the fried chicken, ginger and pepper, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the liquid is a gloopy syrup and the chicken is caramelized, chewy-crispy and cooked. Serve in bowls stacked with herb leaves and plain boiled rice.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.