A meal fit for a mountain climber

At the end of last year I summited my third volcano in Ecuador. Volcanic climbs here are the same every time: initial optimism followed by exhaustion as the grass disappears, giving way to slippery volcanic silt for the final ascent. The descent is a blur, punctuated only by conversation about what we’d like to eat once we’re off the mountain.

Chicken clay pot is a perennial favorite, a riff on the Slanted Door’s own, much better, version. We’ve had to make some adjustments for a home kitchen far from Vietnam or any ethnic grocery store. Still, the combination of protein, sugar and carbohydrates is a sure winner after a long day climbing to the top of the world.

Chicken Clay Pot Adapted from the Slanted Door in San Francisco
~ 1 pound of chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger

After cutting the chicken, place it in a bowl with the first clove of garlic, salt and pepper. Stick the bowl in the fridge until you’re ready for it.

Combine the soy sauce, water, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar in a bowl.

Place a sauce pot over medium-low heat and add the water. Pour the brown sugar in and stir, allowing the sugar to melt. Once the sugar is bubbling add the fish sauce and stir again to combine. Next, add the soy sauce mixture, the jalapeño, garlic and ginger. Stir all of this together and add the chicken to the pot. Stir every few minutes until the chicken is cooked (5 or 6 minutes).

Serve over rice.