It’s been a while isn’t it, since I last posted a recipe on my blog? I am so sorry for this slacking behavior of mine 🙁 There were a lot of events happening in 2016, both good and bad, that took away my attention to this blog. I however have set a goal for 2017 that I need to post more and keep my activities going more frequently, as I do want to push my blog to a new height!!! Most of the time it was just me being a lazy ass and not posting what I had planned to and then ended up forgetting about it altogether. But now I’m back!!! Hopefully for good =D
To start of the 2017 series, I’d like to share with you all a recipe that I have learned from my mom years ago. This is my childhood breakfast staple and I got a chance to make it again with my new housemate. My housemate Vy Hoong just came to Toronto from Vietnam to pursue her academic life at York University, and she wanted to learn every recipe possible so that she could come back home and show off to her family (LOL personal flashback). When I was a kid, I lived in a busy district of Ho Chi Minh city, and across from my neighborhood street was what you call a wet market, where vendors sold their fresh produce and meat products along the street. Things were as fresh as you could see them. The fish mongers would kill and clean a live fish as it was bought by a customer, so that it would be the freshest.
After walking through the open air grocery shops, there were a bunch of food vendors lining up along the little walk, selling all kinds of foods that were bought for breakfast or lunch. The housewives or housekeepers would sometimes have their breakfast together at a food stall and then went off to finish their errands of the morning. Kids who stayed home for the day would also gather and have their breakfast together, which is what you would call a food meetup nowadays (without the time-consuming photo taking or instagramming). It was simply joy and deliciousness that I could remember. There was pan fried rice cake (bột chiên), stir fried noodles or rice noodles (hủ tíu mì xào), Hue noodles (bún bò Huế), noodles with bbq skewers (bún thịt/nem nướng, chả giò), noodles in crab soup (bún riêu cua), and the one vermicelli with shredded chicken in soup (bún gạo/miến gà), and blah blah blah. The rice vermicelli could be substituted by the chewy mung bean noodles, and the shredded chicken could also be sub by the chopped pieces of chicken, bone-in. There are so many ways to put together a bowl of simple noodle and chicken soup, but the flavor is all the same, flavorful and refreshing. You would dip the meat in a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, ginger, and chili, along with other usual ingredients like vinegar/lime and sugar.If you ever get to visit Vietnam, I’ll make sure I will help you navigate the city food scene and enjoy the best of the best, while keeping it safe and clean <3
I had to admit that I missed it a lot, even more now that they closed down the market to make ways for a well paved road. But worry not, the reason why I turned to cooking is to not miss these flavors for long. I can always recreate the dish and get to put my personal touch to it, while keeping it as healthy as I could. To be honest, all the foods that you can get out there contain MSG, which basically boosts the umami of the dish, giving it more depth in flavor in a short time. You can do this at home by simply cooing the broth longer and draw out the depth from the vegetables and the bones. The rice vermicelli in this recipe is not the one you have with the bbq skewer. It is a thinner noodle that looks like angle hair and is not chewy. It has a bit of firmness when you bite into it. Check out this Google search in order to have a better understanding of what you need.
Now that I’m tired of typing, let’s start shall we.
BÚN GẠO GÀ
Cooking time: 2 hours for broth. Please refer to my notes for more info
Servings: 4-6 people depending on how much they eat !!!
- A whole chicken
- A fist-size ginger
- 1 radish (around 1 lb)
- 2 onions
- 5 cloves of garlic
- Rice vermicelli
- Green onions and cilantro
- Ginger dipping sauce
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp minced chili
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice/vinegar
- 2 tbsp warm water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- First clean the chicken well, keeping it as a whole; place in a large and deep pot
- Quarter the onions, crush the ginger slightly, and peel and cut the radish into large chunks
- Add garlic and the above to the pot with chicken, fill the water to cover the chicken, or about 4 to 6 bowls of water. Add 1 tbsp of salt
- Set the heat to high and let the water boil for 15 minutes. Then, lower the heat down to low and let the broth simmer for another 1 hour – 1hour and a half
- Once the broth has been simmered, take the chicken out and let cool before shredding or chopping. Season the broth with more salt and a bit of sugar to obtain the desired flavour, and continue to simmer until serving. You can either remove all the vegetables in the broth or keep them there to enhance the flavour.
- Cook the rice vermicelli in boiling water to soften. Rinse in cold water to prevent it from sticking together. Set aside
- Finely chop green onion and cilantro and set aside for garnish
- For the dipping sauce: Except for fish sauce, mix everything together. Then add fish sauce last. Adjust the taste by adding more fish sauce or lime juice or sugar until you have a sweet and sour and salty sauce.
- Plating: Add noodles to the bowl first, then shredded chicken, then the herb garnish, then pour in the hot broth. Adjust the taste with the dipping sauce while eating.
- The chicken I used in this recipe is young chicken, which has tender flesh and soft skin. It requires shorter time to cook and simmer. However, if you are to increase the flavour of the chicken broth, you should look for stewing chickens/hens, or old chickens. These are considerably cheaper but require double the time of cooking in order to get the tender meat. You will not get the soft meat like that from a young chicken, but rather it will be a bit more chewy and gamey, which I DO prefer, as it has the similar texture as free running chicken meat in Vietnam. Another way of making the broth is to use chicken bones, and add in any part of a chicken that you want (wings, legs, breast meat). However make sure you wash the bones thoroughly with boiling hot water several times to remove all the impurities before making the broth. The bones’ essence will not be washed away from this cleaning process.
- The chicken broth is usually very clear, as it does not have as much impurities as that from pork or beef bones. However, in order to guarantee a clean taste and a clear broth, you mush always wash the chicken or the chicken bones thoroughly. I’m taking about pouring HOT boiling water over it for at least 3 times. Another way to do this is to boil the chicken or the bones 3 times, 5 minutes each, and discard those 3 pots of water. We will use the 4th water to make the broth. This process is used in many broth recipe (especially Pho) to seal off the bones from the outside and wash away the scums that will otherwise float on top of the broth and make it cloudy.
- The dipping sauce: There are 2 ways of mixing the dipping sauce, BUT you only need to remember this: DO NOT ADD FISH SAUCE DIRECTLY TO THE GARLIC. This will create a strong and weird taste that you do not want and cannot erase from the sauce. You can either mix the fish sauce, water, sugar, lime juice and adjust to taste, then add the minced parts at the end, or add everything and add fish sauce at the end, then season to taste.
- My twist: I tried to keep away the broth and just mixed the chicken and the noodles and the herbs together with the dipping sauce to create the dry version of this dish and it was AMAZING! TRY IT BOTH OKAY!!!