Com ga Hoi An (Hoi An chicken rice)

8 September 2011
by Phuoc

I miss being on holidays. My recent holiday to Vietnam really hit home for me. I miss seeing the sights, exploring the Vietnamese culture that my parents left behind and eating all the cheap and delicious street food. I’ve mentioned before that Hoi An was my favourite place for awesome street food. It was here where I discovered their wondrous speciality dish, Cao Lầu. I still crave for it each time I think about Vietnam.

One of the dishes we didn’t get to try is Cơm gà Hội An (Hoi An chicken rice). It’s not a Hoi An speciality, in fact, it’s pretty much Hainanese chicken, given the town’s historical Chinese influence. I guess that’s one of the beauties of Asian cuisine, there is bound to be a few similar dishes amongst neighbouring countries, each slightly tweaked to fit into the main flavour profile of each cuisine. This version sees the chicken torn into smaller pieces and mixed with chopped herbs and sliced onions to form a salad, it is still served with the rice that has been cooked with the broth of the chicken, but there is nước mắm chấm (dipping fish sauce) served alongside which gives this otherwise-subtle dish a sweet, salty, sour and spicy element.

That was definitely not how I served this dish (as I didn’t know about this until after I made this dish), I just left the chicken on the bone for us to eat off. You can check out how it’s meant to be here. The chicken is gently simmered with ginger, onion and spring onions, imparting flavour and fragrance to the dish; its skin is slippery and meat is tender and juicy. I also served this dish with some homemade kimchi that my dad made by winging it (I know it’s not authentic but it’s still good enough!).

This is my entry to the Delicious Vietnam September 2011 blogging event, founded by A Food Lover’s Journey and Ravenous Couple and hosted by yours truly. This monthly blogging event celebrates Vietnamese cuisine by Vietnamese food lovers around the world. Stay tune for the Round Up of this month’s entries next week.


Recipe from The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen

Serves 4



1 whole chicken (1.5kg), cleaned

2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters

4 spring onions, knotted

100g ginger, peeled and sliced

3 tbsp fish sauce

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked

nước mắm chấm (dipping fish sauce) (recipe follows), to serve

Ginger rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 garlic colves

15g ginger, peels and julienned

400g (2 cups) jasmine rice, washed until water runs clear (about 3-4 times) and drained


For the chicken

  1. Stuff the chicken with onions, spring onions and ginger. (Optional: Tie up cavity to enclose contents.)
  2. Place the chicken in a stockpot with 5L of cold water.
  3. Bring to boil for 15 minutes, constantly skimming surface for any impurities.
  4. Add fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and set aside for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken and cool.
  7. Strain the stock through a muslin cloth, reserve 750mL of stock and set aside.
  8. Chop the chicken with a cleaver, chop in half and then chop each half into 6-8 pieces. Set chicken aside.

For the ginger rice

  1. Place a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add oil, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 mnutes or until light brown.
  2. Add rice and stir fry for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and bring to the  boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and allow rice to stand for 10 minutes, covered.
  6. Serve with chicken (either warm or at room temperature) and nước mắm chấm (dipping fish sauce).

Print this recipe

Nước mắm chấm (dipping fish sauce)

Recipe makes about 1 cup


3 tbsp fish sauce

3 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced

2 tbsp lime juice


  1. Combine fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and 125mL (1/2 cup) water in a saucepan and place over medium heat.
  2. Stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached, remove from heat and cool.
  3. To serve, add garlic, chilli and lime juice.
  4. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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  1. Apex@blueapocalypse

    I love hainanese chicken rice but I have never had a Vietnamese version before. I will be travelling to Vietnam in October this year, my first trip there as an adult. I went there with my parents as a teenager. I look forward to trying this dish in Hoi An!

  2. nic@diningwithastud

    This looks awesome! I have to say, I would prefer it warm, first first experience was cold (meant to be room temp but was pretty much cold) and I wasnt a fan. Im sure that goes against tradition though :/

  3. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul

    I love this dish…always have it when travelling around Asia. I love the Vietnamese take on this too. Yum!

  4. Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    I have never had the Vietnamese version of this dish, looks delicious. I miss being on holidays too!

  5. Lan

    i love com ga. what makes the dish for me is the ginger fish sauce. it reminds me of my grandmother.

    the chinese and thai version of this dish is also fantastic.

  6. mademoiselle délicieuse

    Any form of poached chicken works in my book, especially when eaten in Asia where they tend to serve smaller, juicier chickens.

  7. Pepy@Indonesia Eats

    I love Hainanese Chicken Rice. Thou, it’s pretty a long process to cook, it’s worthed.

  8. Phuoc

    Apex: Awesome! I hope you enjoy it, my dad makes a version of Hoi An chicken rice, but instead of serving it with the chicken rice, he serves the chicken salad with congee, so I can kind of imagine how it would be like..

    Nic: Yeah I think having it on the cooler side would be the traditional way of having it but if you prefer to have it warmer than that’s not a problem at all.

    Peter: Nice! I must admit I don’t have this dish too often but I think I should since it’s pretty easy to make; I’ll have to up the ginger though..

    Sara: If only we could be on holidays constantly hey?

    Lan: Yes, I should add that in the recipe hey? Ginger in the fish sauce provides such a lovely fragrance and flavour to the sauce, and how lovely is it that it reminds you of your grandmother?

    Mademoiselle délicieuse: Gotta love the simple pleasures!

    Pepy: It might be a little long but at least your not constantly over the stove, but it’s worth it in the end

  9. ginger and scotch

    We used to have this on many a weekends when I was growing up. Thanks for the recipe – will have to try it out this week now that you have me craving it!

  10. Katherine

    Phuoc, I have been thinking about Chicken Rice for the last month. I have been so eager to make it myself, but I just havent had the time. Luke’s recipe is quite simple. This is definately going on my to do list…. You just made me hungry..

  11. Adrian (Food Rehab)

    There are a few decent Vietnamese places in Melbs that do a decent Hoi An chicken rice. It’s so good… totally dig the aromoa and its juiciness. And yes, I really miss going on holidays especially the street food!

  12. Julia @ Mélanger

    I love this book. It’s one of our favourites here at home. I’d love to try this dish in Vietnam, but in the meantime, you’ve inspired me to turn the page to this recipe and get cooking. It’s great as well that this dish seems to bring some lovely memories for you, too!

  13. Vivian - vxdollface

    Yum! This is one of my favourite dishes to order at a Vietnamese restaurant, the other being the crispy skin chicken :)

  14. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    Oh I love chicken rice too! It sounds a bit different from Singaporean chicken rice but just as yummy! :)

  15. Phuoc

    Ginger and scotch: I hope you’ve satisfied that craving of yours!

    Katherine: Nice :) His recipe is pretty straight forward and easy to make. I hope you enjoy making and eating this dish

    Adrian: I’ll have to make sure I bug you next time I’m in Melbourne to ask you for details for these Vietnamese restaurants. Nothing beats having street food on holidays! We need more street food here in Australia I think :)

    Julia: Same, it’s one of the books I cook most often from. The recipes are easy and authentic. Gotta love it!

    Vivian: Mmmm crispy skin chicken… :)

    Lorraine: Yes indeed, I just love how neighbouring countries have similar dishes

  16. Martyna (Wholesome Cook)

    Yum, I love Luke’s take on Vietnamese food and this chicken sounds amazing. I can imagine the flavours meandering through every bite. Especially in the rice cooked in the same broth – I’m always needing to flavour my rice with lashings of sauce or stock. Looking forward to seeing more posts :-)

  17. Phuoc

    Martyna: Thanks! I don’t have a chance to cook that much Vietnamese cook at home but when I do, I refer to Luke’s book. They bring back memories of the dishes I had when I was younger. This chicken rice dish is so simple to prepare and also delicious!

  18. Peter N

    Great article, bringsback great memories for me! My favorite dish when I travelled to Hoi An was definitely Cao Lầu!! It was so delicious I ordered three servings at one time! Cơm gà was certainly my next favorite! I went to a place named Cơm gà Nga, but I’m sure any dish in Hoi An is equally amazing!

  19. Phuoc

    Peter N: I’m glad that this post has brought about many pleasant memories for you. HAHA I would’ve ordered that many dishes of Cao Lau as well! I really really want to go back badly!

  20. Cao Lau renowned in Hoi An

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