Chicken slow-braised in green peppercorns and coconut juice

Luke Nguyen's hearty Asian stew combines an intriguing array of flavours
By Luke Nguyen
Chicken slow-braised in green peppercorns and coconut juice
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour marinating
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

  • 50 g fresh green peppercorns, (see Cook's tips below), plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 free-range chicken (about 1.5 kg), cleaned and chopped into quarters
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 8 whole red Asian shallots, peeled (see Cook's tips below)
  • 1/2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 small crisp baguettes, or bread rolls
  • 1 tbsp annatto oil
  • 2 litres coconut water

Tips and Suggestions

Fresh green peppercorns are the unripe fruit of the pepper vine (Piper nigrum). Once picked, they will start to oxidise and turn black, so it is important to buy them when you want to use them. They can be found, in season, in Asian markets. You could substitute green peppercorns in brine, but the flavour will be somewhat different.

Red Asian shallots look similar to golden shallots, but are pink-red in colour, with a sweeter, subtler flavour. They are available at all Asian food stores and some supermarkets. You can substitute golden shallots if necessary, but the onion taste will be stronger.

Annatto oil, a dark red-orange coloured oil made by infusing vegetable oil with annatto (achuete) seeds, is used to give a subtle flavour and red-orange colour to food. Look for the oil in Asian supermarkets or make your own by gently heating oil with annatto seeds to near boiling point and leaving to infuse for 10 minutes.

Unsure about any of these ingredients? See our Vietnamese food glossary for help and alternative recommendations.

Method

1. Lightly bruise half the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, then transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

2. Add half the garlic, 2 teaspoons of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the chicken pieces. Toss to make sure the chicken pieces are well coated, then cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

3. Heat a large saucepan until very hot, then add the oil and remaining garlic and peppercorns and fry until fragrant.

4. Add the chicken and seal on both sides until lightly browned.

5. Add the tomatoes, carrots and annatto oil and stir until well blended, then stir in the coconut juice, red shallots, onion, fish sauce and remaining sugar and salt.

6. Bring the mixture to the boil and skim any impurities that rise to the surface. Turn the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

7. Transfer to a deep bowl, garnish with extra peppercorns and serve with crisp baguettes.

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