(aka gà kho gừng, braised chicken with ginger. The scallions and coriander are well worth adding, as they put in a note of freshness the dish is sorely lacking otherwise. I cooked mine in a covered wok because I’m lazy, but if you have a spare claypot, it’s also nicer to let the flavours develop. One of the adjustments I made to the recipe was lengthening cooking time, as there’s hardly any point in braising something for 5 minutes…)
In a wok over high heat, put in oil, ginger, chilli-garlic sauce, garlic, onion and stir until fragrant.
Add the chicken, fish sauce, sugar, and salt. Stir for 2-3 minutes until barely cooked. If using a claypot, transfer the whole into it.
Add the chicken stock and the caramel sauce. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, maintaining a low simmer (you can cook for longer if you want to let the tastes develop. I usually have no time). Uncover, cook for 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Add the scallions and cilantro, and remove the pot from the heat.
Serve hot with rice and a vegetable (green beans is a nice idea).
Aka gà xào sả ớt. A classic of Vietnamese cuisine that I hadn’t got round to revisiting… I got started by a peak at Bach Ngo’s Classic Cuisine of Vietnam, and then went to consult my bible, aka Trầm Kim Mai’s Từ Điển 1001 Món Ăn Việt Nam (Encyclopedia of 1001 Vietnamese dishes). To say that they both had radically different ideas of the dish would be understatement of the century (Bach Ngo’s version didn’t even have the chillies, which is a bit embarrassing for a dish named after them…). I was intrigued by the presence of kẹo dậu phọng, Vietnamese sesame and peanut candy, in Trầm Kim Mai’s recipe, but of course I didn’t have the actual candy at home, so it was a bit hard to add to the mix: I ended up using chopped peanuts, sesame and honey to replicate the addition of the candy to the chicken. The result is… intruiguing, to say the least, sweet and hot at the same time and all made of yummy!
(most recipes for this I’ve seen online use nước màu, Vietnamese caramel sauce)
(why yes, I had no coriander either… well worth adding though, it adds a welcome note of freshness to the dish)
I have been busy with various other projects (and wrestling with RL!), and somewhat neglecting this blog… Still working on a short story and trying to make it behave, but in the meantime here’s a recipe to tide you over. This was inspired by one of Mai Pham’s recipes in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, albeit a bit modified to actually grill the chicken. It requires planning a bit in advance since you’ll basically be marinating the chicken with its skin on, which takes quite a bit of time.
The chicken in the picture was cooked in our oven’s rotisserie, but you can also roast the chicken in a dish in your oven (I’m no expert in roasting chicken–the only way I know that works involves cutting the chicken in half; feel free to chime in if you’ve got better ideas!). It’s best served with a dipping sauce (I used nuoc cham, but you can also make a ginger and lime dipping sauce)
4 whole star anise, lightly toasted in a dry pan for 3 minutes, pounded or ground into a fine powder
Mix all the ingredients together except the chicken.
Rinse the chicken under running water and pat it dry with paper towels.
If you don’t have a rotisserie in your oven, cut the chicken in half and slather it in marinade. Rub well so that the spices penetrate. If you do have a rotisserie, keep the chicken whole, and rub it all over with the marinade, making sure to save about half the marinade to insert between the legs as deep as you can. Insert the spit now if you’re using a rotisserie, since it’ll save you trouble later on…
Put the chicken in the fridge to marinate overnight (or at least 7-8 hours).
When ready to cook, either:
Pre-heat oven to 220°C. Put the chicken in a shallow pan, skin side down, and bake at 220°C degrees for 15 minutes. Then flip so the chicken is skin side up and bake at 170°C for 25 minutes. Check that the flesh is tender and the juices run clear, and you’re done.
OR Put the chicken on a spit in the oven at rotisserie setting and cook for about 1h, until the flesh is tender and the juices run clear.
Serve with a dipping sauce, and rice or tomato rice (tomato rice is basically day-old rice with tomato paste, fish sauce and garlic. I might get around to posting a recipe at some point, but in the meantime you can find recipes at Wandering Chopsticks, for instance).
The original recipe added the star anise at the last minute before cooking; I didn’t because it’s a bit troublesome to stuff marinade into the chicken after you’ve put it on the spit and are all but ready to bake it.
Aka gà hấp rau răm. This started out as gà xé phay, a classic appetiser from the North/Centre. See, I had those rau răm leaves from the supermarket, so I thought I would make it from Bach Ngo’s Classic Cuisine of Vietnam. That was before I thought, “Hey, remember that cookbook you brought from Vietnam? See if you can find the recipe in there”. Fifteen minutes later, I was still seating at the table with the cookbook open at the page of the recipe, and the dictionary open on my knees–flipping through pages, muttering and cursing, and pausing only brief to google a tricky word that wasn’t in the dictionary or in my personal vocabulary. The variant in the book looked like an interesting recipe, except that a. I didn’t have most of the ingredients listed, and b. some things were plain odd, for instance the marinating of the onions followed by a complete omission of said onions from the subsequent bits of the recipe (or the surprise appearance of the rau răm about halfway through the recipe).
So I did what I usually do: went wild. Most of the stuff I didn’t have either got substituted or nixed; and the stuff I didn’t understand got fixed by referring to the Bach Ngo recipe. The end result is… pretty unconnected to either of the two recipes, but it tastes pretty good!
Do try to find rau răm if you can: it’s really one of those recipes that tastes quite different if you do the usual mint substitution.
Ga hap rau ram: steamed chicken with Vietnamese mint
Author: Aliette de Bodard
Recipe type: Main
A nice fresh and sweet dish, very easy to make.
1 red onion, sliced paper thin
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
6 tablespoons nuoc cham
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, cut into small pieces
⅔ cup rau ram leaves, chopped into small pieces
Mix together the salt, the rice wine, 1 tablespoon sriracha, the sugar, the pepper and the red onion (in this order precisely, in order to have a smooth sauce before putting in the onion). Let the flavours develop for 20-30 minutes.
Cut the chicken into rough chunks, and steam it in a basket for 20-30 minutes, until cooked.
Meanwhile, mix the sauce: the hoisin, the nuoc cham, the sesame oil, the garlic clove and 1 tablespoon of the sriracha. Taste and adjust: it should be sweet with a kick and a tang (especially, the hoisin taste shouldn’t overwhelm the other flavours).
When the chicken is cooked, chop it into small pieces. Mix well with the rau ram leaves.
Take the onions out of their liquid, rinse them once in cold water, and add to the chicken. Mix well.
Pour the sauce on top of the chicken-rau ram-onion mixture. Serve with rice and a vegetable.
Rau ram, Vietnamese mint, can be found in most Asian shops. If you can’t find any, you can use the common mint (NOT peppermint) in replacement, though the taste won’t be quite the same. The measurements I give are for leaves tightly packed into the measuring cup.
Sriracha can be replaced with your favorite chilli sauce.
You can also fry the red onion for a small bit before putting it into the marinade, if you don’t want the dish to taste strongly of onions (I don’t mind, but the H does).
And back to some cooking experiments. This is what I made yesterday with our leftover grilled chicken, which badly needed sprucing up. Mostly made it through a combination of leafing through a cookbook and what I had on my shelves (it started out as some kind of Singaporean soup, but then I didn’t have the crab or the pork or the shrimps, and I tossed out ingredients of the list at a high clip while replacing them with stuff in my fridge. The final product has no resemblance whatsoever to the recipe I was reading).
I have no pictures because it was late and I was tired, and dragging a soup bowl full of piping-hot soup to my desk–where the best lamp for pictures is–looked likely to cause a local flood. Sorry.
To tide you over, and because blog posts look sad without illustrations, here’s a stock placeholder image from Wikipedia that sort of bears a vague resemblance to my final product yesterday (except for the bit where it’s Burmese and has peanuts, but you can mentally edit those out of the picture, right? )
(picture taken by Wagaung, used under under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
1 tablet instant chicken/vegetable broth (dosage for 2 cups, YMMV. I used one tab of the Knorr organic vegetable bouillon; it’s not on their website as it’s probably a Europe-only product, but the vegetable broth on the US website sounds very similar)
3 cloves garlic
1 0.5cm-thick (0.2″) nub of ginger
1 tablespoon nuoc mam
1 teaspoon five spices
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
8-10 fresh coriander stems, loosely chopped
3 spring onions, green part only, chopped into rings (optional)
In a saucepan, heat the water until it boils.
Meanwhile, finely grate the garlic and the ginger. Put a frying pan on the stove, some oil, and fry the mixture until it turns golden.
Add the garlic-ginger mixture, the chicken, and the tablet of instant broth into the water.
Adjust the heat until you have a high persistent simmering (bubbles shooting to the surface regularly, but water not yet boiling in great gouts). Mix gently until the tab is dissolved. Add the nuoc mam, the five spices. Taste and adjust; it should be salty with a kick, but not too much.
Leave everything to mingle together for about 5 minutes.
Put the noodles, and wait for them to cook.
Add the sesame oil, mix well, taste and adjust with more nuoc mam if needed. Lower the heat.
Prepare two soup bowls as follows: half the coriander and half the spring onions. Then serve half the soup in each.
Also, in cooking-related news… I think the H has developed a taste for sautéed broccoli. I made him some one night from the Irene Kuo cookbook–and ever since, when I ask him to bring home vegetables, he’ll come back with a bunch of broccoli and a hopeful air. Should I be worried?
(aka gà xào dầm gừng sả, lit. fried chicken with pickled ginger and lemongrass)
Yes, it looks gooey (that would be the cornstarch plus a liberal appliance of high heat), but it’s so very yummy. The flavours of the lemongrass, ginger and vinegar all combine for an explosion of taste right where it matters. My sis’s favourite dish when she was younger. Not my favourite dish (I tend more towards the shrimp and crab end of the spectrum), but it’s still such good comfort food.
Ga xao dam gung sa (chicken with lemongrass and macerated ginger)
Recipe type: Main
A wonderful mix, tart and spicy and redolent with the smell of lemongrass (recipe from Bach Ngo’s Classic Cuisine of Vietnam).
1 stalk lemongrass
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons ginger, pounded with mortar and pestle
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
Sprinkling of black pepper
Mix the ginger and the vinegar. Set aside.
Prepare the lemongrass stalk: discard any dried outer leaves, discard the upper two-thirds of the stalk, and slice the remainder paper-thin. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Put the chicken in a bowl along with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, and sprinkle black pepper. Add the lemongrass. Mix, and set aside.
Mix the cornstarch, sugar, water and remaining fish sauce, and set aside.
Chop the garlic, and slice the onion into wedges.
In a large-bottom casserole dish on medium fire, put in oil, and fry the garlic for ~30s, until fragrant. Add the onion, and cook until soft. Add the chicken, and fry for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Cover, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Then stir in the ginger-vinegar mixture and the cornstarch-fish sauce-sugar one. Mix well. Cover again, and cook for 5 minutes. Then uncover, set heat until the sauce boils, and finish off by congealing the sauce (basically, make the cornstarch boil and thicken).
Serve with rice.
The lemongrass stalk can be replaced with 1 tablespoon dried lemongrass, but it will need to be soaked in warm water for 2 hours and chopped very fine.
And on a more cheerful topic–we had two lemongrass stalks leftover from a previous meal, and I was looking for a way to use them. Ended up making lemongrass chicken, which tasted awesome. So before I forget how I came to this result, here’s the lowdown.
The recipe is a mix between two Lemongrass Roasted Chicken recipes: one from Wandering Chopsticks’ blog, and the other from Mai Pham’s Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. They both used a whole chicken, which I couldn’t find at this time of the year (usual provider on holiday, as befits the month of August), so I made do with chicken breasts.
5 small onions, or 1 large onion (I used the bottom part of 5 scallions, though the ones I bought had bulbs double the size of “standard” Asian scallions, such as the ones you see in the topmost picture)
2 tblsp. fresh chopped coriander (the recipe called for 2 tblsp. The only coriander I could find was at the supermarket and came in one of those little translucid boxes, pre-washed–I’m pretty sure it was 20g, but not 100%. I ended up using all of it, because I’ve found it keeps very badly in the fridge and didn’t want to freeze it. Overall, I’d definitely add more than 2 tablespoons. Maybe 3-4).
Combine all the ingredients except the coriander and the chicken. Put the chicken in the marinade–if you have time, leave it for 1 hour in the fridge. If you don’t, then skip this part.
Pre-heat oven to 180-200°C (thermostat 6-7), put the chicken and about half the marinade, and let it cook for 40 minutes, until top part is starting to turn golden. Then turn chicken over, brush with rest of marinade, and cook for another 40 minutes until golden.
Sprinkle coriander on top of the finished product, and serve with steamed rice.