“Vietnamese” Chicken Cookbook Face-Off

I am always on the hunt for weeknight dinner recipes that are delicious and can get to the table in 30 minutes or so. I rave about Dinner, by Melissa Clark, which has many recipes that meet those criteria.

Milk Street Tuesday Nights is my newest cookbook and is supposed to be the same.

covers of the Dinner Cookbook and Milk Street Tuesday Nights.

The cookbook comparison

Several friends raved about the Milk Street Caramel-Braised Chicken with Ginger and Lime (p73), and so it ended up at the top of the to-cook list this week. Stated start to finish time: 45 minutes.


I got off to a bad start because I hadn’t defrosted the coconut milk I had in the freezer. The recipe calls for coconut water, for which you can sub a 50:50 mix of water and coconut milk.

Then caramel. Caramel may not take a lot of time to make, but you have to pay attention to it, which is really not an easy thing to do when you’re trying to pay attention to an upset child, open the mail, put away the dishes, etc. Then there’s a bunch of add this and stir that.

With the additions of toasted coconut and rice, my start to finish time was 52:24, pretty much all hands on.

caramelized chicken in a frying pan.

While Melissa Clark’s Vietnamese Ginger Chicken (p42) doesn’t have the caramel, it is much simpler – marinade chicken for 30-60 min (or do it in the morning and leave it in the fridge all day) and broil. Make extra marinade for a sauce and serve it all over coconut rice.

Winner: Dinner.


Vietnamese Ginger Chicken Marinade (from Dinner by Melissa Clark)

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  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon peanut oil
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
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