This marinade is a bit more heavily seasoned than most Vietnamese meat marinades. It uses both fermented red bean curd, which is intensely salty, and five-spice powder (which often contains more than five spices), a popular seasoning blend for duck and other poultry recipes. The tartness of the tamarind sauce, which is made from the pulp in the pods of the tamarind tree, adds another layer of complexity. I learned this recipe from a Vietnamese woman who worked in the kitchen at the original Slanted Door, but I don’t think it originated in Vietnamese Food. It seems like something that was created in the States, where dishes are often made to seem Asian with the addition of ingredients like five-spice powder. Origins aside, this is a crowd-pleaser. We make it with chicken breast (one of the few times I recommend using breasts), but you can use chicken thighs, if you prefer. Serve with steamed rice and a green vegetable.
This Vietnamese food recipe is adapted from the book Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan. Copyright © 2012 by Charles Phan