Vietnamese Goose Leg Kho
Growing up, kho was one of my favorite meals. Prepared in many styles and with different meats or seafood depending on the occasion, Kho is a special-occasion meal. More a cooking technique than a specific dish, Vietnamese Kho dishes share one commonality- the meat is slowly braised in a fish sauce and caramel glaze, resulting in a sticky-sweet and savory sauce that makes the perfect foil for a bowl of perfect white rice.
This recipe, which is adapted from Andrea Nguyen’s undisputed classic “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen,” is traditionally done with pork riblets. We don’t eat much pork these days, so instead, we use skin-on goose legs. You’ll need to marinate the legs a day in advance, and you can also make the caramel sauce ahead of time. It will keep at room temperature for weeks.
Vietnamese Goose Leg Kho
Prep time: 30 minutes active, 3 hours total
Serves: 4-6 as entree
6 skin-on goose legs (excess fat trimmed off)
1 large yellow onion, diced small
½ cup fish sauce
1 cup vietnamese caramel sauce (recipe below)
4 cups light goose stock, unsalted (unsalted chicken stock can be substituted)
2 tbsp sugar
Combine onion, ¼ cup of the fish sauce, and 2 tbsp sugar in mixing bowl, stir to combine. Add goose legs and mix until evenly coated. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight, or 4 hours minimum.
Remove goose from bowl, shake off excess marinade (reserve all marinade, keep refrigerated) and char over high heat on a grill or broil in oven for 3-5 minutes per side. You’re looking for a little bit of char on the skin and browning on the meat side, but take care to not burn the skin entirely. If using the broiler, visually check often to make sure the rendered fat does not smoke or catch fire.
Add the charred legs to a dutch oven or other large braising pan with a lid & add remaining marinade, caramel sauce, & ¼ cup fish sauce. Top with stock to just cover goose legs (you can add water if you need just a bit more liquid). Bring it to a steady simmer, then cover and simmer on low for 1-1.5 hour(s). When the meat is getting tender but isn’t quite fork tender, uncover and adjust heat to steady simmer, reducing cooking liquid to a sticky but viscous sauce. Once the meat is fork-tender and the sauce reduced (around an hour), remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then skim off some of the excess fat that seperates to the top.
Garnish with green onions and serve over rice or chao (Vietnamese rice soup) with steamed or stir fried vegetables.
Vietnamese Caramel sauce
1 ½ cups water
2 cups sugar
In a stainless steel saucepan add ½ cup water and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is evenly dissolved. Allow to simmer (do not stir). Bubbles will form and the water will start to evaporate. Monitor it closely- the sugar will start to caramelize and start turning from clear to a golden hue. Continue to caramelize to a light coffee color and just as smoke starts to rise from the pan, remove from heat and CAREFULLY give the pan a swirl. The color should continue to darken because of the residual heat from the pan. Once it hits a dark amber brown carefully add the remaining 1 cup of water, return to medium heat and stir until dissolved. You should have a viscus black coffee colored caramel with high sheen and a burnt toffee flavor. Allow to cool slightly and store in glass jar, once fully cooled, store covered at room temperature for up to two weeks.