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
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
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
- Stuff the chicken with onions, spring onions and ginger. (Optional: Tie up cavity to enclose contents.)
- Place the chicken in a stockpot with 5L of cold water.
- Bring to boil for 15 minutes, constantly skimming surface for any impurities.
- Add fish sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and set aside for 45 minutes.
- Remove the chicken and cool.
- Strain the stock through a muslin cloth, reserve 750mL of stock and set aside.
- 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
- Place a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add oil, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 mnutes or until light brown.
- Add rice and stir fry for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan and cook for 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and allow rice to stand for 10 minutes, covered.
- Serve with chicken (either warm or at room temperature) and nước mắm chấm (dipping fish sauce).
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
- Combine fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and 125mL (1/2 cup) water in a saucepan and place over medium heat.
- Stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached, remove from heat and cool.
- To serve, add garlic, chilli and lime juice.
- Store in a jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.