Inspired by David Lebovitz, watching his snapchats making something to do with chicken and a Vietnamese caramel and ginger sauce, also known as Ga Kho. I couldn’t hear him as I was sneakily doing this during a meeting which I had no interest in being in. The day went on in madness, and by the time I went back to it, it had passed its’ 24 hours time limit.

So, I did what I could best, recreate based on memory (and I have a weak one!), and working on it bit by bit as I cooked along.

Upon further research I found that there are so many variations to this in the Vietnamese cuisine – one that I have been fairly enamoured with – they balance out so many flavour profiles with pinches of this and armfuls of that… it’s truly magic for the palate.

I use one pan only to make this sauce. First start cooking the ginger, scallions sand garlic. Whilst in the other pan start making the chilli caramel – which is simply boiled down and cooked sugar, with lovely red chillies. Could this be any better?

I used Thai bird red chillies, but you can substitute with regular red chillies, dried chilli flakes or green chillies… whatever is convenient. The chilli quotient can be adjusted to your own tastes.

Note: you can use paneer in place of tofu.

The Recipe
Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 shallot bulbs, halved
  • 1/4 cup spring onion, green parts, chopped
  • 15 ginger slices
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce
  • 100g firm tofu cubes
  • brown rice to serve


  • In a medium pan, heat the oil for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, shallots, and 2 chillies and cook with salt for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the ginger mixture into a bowl.
  • In the same pan, add the sugar and swirl the pan a few times to distribute evenly.
  • Maintain a low heat and watch carefully, while waiting for the sugar to melt into caramel – this should take 15 minutes.
  • Once all the sugar crystals have started to dissolve and bubbles start forming, remove from heat and add the chillies and butter and stir vigorously until it melts.
  • Place the pan back on heat and slowly add water while stirring. The caramel may harden at places, but continuously stir the sauce until they melt and increase the heat to medium.
  • Add the ginger mixture and soya sauce and stir.
  • Once the sauce starts to bubble again, add the tofu and stir to coat the cubes and cook for another few minutes.
  • Serve hot with brown rice.

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The recipes are tried and tested, some are adapted from various places, and a few are passed down; but every one of them comes straight from the heart.