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Canh Ga Ham Thuoc Bac: Vietnamese Black Chicken Soup Recipe Recipe

Canh gà hầm thuốc bắc, or "stewed black chicken soup" in Vietnamese, is known for its medicinal properties. It's the cultural equivalent of chicken noodle soup when you feel sick. In addition to its purported healing properties, it has a reputation of enhancing lactation for breast-feeding mothers. I don't know if it really helped nourish my baby girl but the broth is very tasty.

"Gà ác", which literally translates to "cruel chicken" is black chicken. It's parboiled then cooked overnight in a slow cooker. The soup requires several ingredients called thuốc bắc (traditional Chinese medicinal herbs and roots). It's composed of several kinds of dried mushrooms, gojee berries, ginseng, almonds, dried dates, dried jujube, dried lily bulbs, dried longans and fresh ginger. The addition of dried fruits makes a delicious broth with a complex flavor and natural sweetness.


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Com Ga Hai Nam (Hainanese Chicken Rice) Recipe

Whenever I have chicken broth leftover from making bún măng gà, literally "bamboo and chicken rice noodle soup", I make chicken rice with it. The dish is called cơm gà Hải Nam; the yellow hue comes from the aromatic chicken broth (in place of water) made from Vietnamese chicken. What is a Vietnamese chicken, you ask? In Vietnam, the gà đi bộ chicken are considered "free-range"; the chickens are "trained" to run and as a result the meat has a totally different texture from the chicken found in American grocery stores. If you want to make a very authentic broth, the choice of chicken is crucial. You can find it at Asian markets; ask for a gà đi bộ, literally a walking chicken.

Traditionally, cơm gà Hải Nam is served with pieces of the boiled gà đi bộ chicken and rau thơm, which translates to fragrant herbs. The herb mixture is usually composed of rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), Vietnamese mint, Thai Basil, ngò (cilantro) and thinly sliced cabbage. Of course, the dish is seasoned with nước mắm (Vietnamese fish sauce), fresh red Thai chiles, pickled shallots and thinly shredded fresh ginger. The overall dish is light and absolutely delicious!


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