Ga Muoi Ot: Vietnamese Chicken Salad Recipe
As you may have noticed, I love sharing cooking tips. I recently told our family friend Cô Hoa that chicken salad tastes so much better if the chicken is boiled in fried-onion flavored broth. She invited us over to her house and we made a món ăn Miền Trung, "Central Vietnamese dish" in Vietnamese, called gà muối ớt (salt and chile chicken). The recipe is ultra simple. Cô Hoa assured me that all you need is the freshest chicken possible, ginger, a little chile and salt. Nothing more, thing less. The chicken is cooled to room temperature, then shredded and mixed with rau răm, a fragrant Vietnamese coriander.
You could either store the leftover chicken broth in the freezer for future use, or on the next day make cơm gà Hải Nam, which is a flavorful chicken rice. Nothing goes to waste!
Yields: 4 servings1 whole chicken
1 large yellow onion
1 tablespoon canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 (2-inch) chunk fresh galangal (or ginger)
1 tablespoon sea salt (or regular salt)
½ Serrano green chile pepper, to taste
8 sprigs rau răm (see tips)
Clean the chunk of galangal and remove any dirt. Peel the galangal root with the edge of a spoon, then thinly slice it.
Slice the onion. Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the onions, stirring frequently to prevent the onion from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown.
Wash the whole chicken.
Fill a pot with 3 quarts of water. Bring to a roaring boil. Add the sliced galangal and fried onions. Add the whole chicken to the fried-onion broth. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the whole chicken from the pot. Let cool a little until you can handle it without discomfort. Make several deep diagonal incisions throughout the bird's flesh. Place the chicken back in the broth. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil again and cook for another 5 minutes (cook the chicken no more than 15 minutes).
Remove the chicken from the broth. Let cool a bit. Shred the meat. Set the meat aside on a platter.
Depending on how you can tolerate the heat, remove and discard the seeds from the Serrano chile. The seeds are attached to a ribbed membrane where most of the heat of the pepper is. Finely chop. In a mortar and pestle, turn the chile into a smooth green paste.
Add the green chile paste to the shredded chicken. Toss well, then sprinkle with the remaining salt.
When you're ready to serve, chop the rau răm herbs and add to the chicken salad. Toss well. Adjust seasoning.
Serve immediately at room temperature.
You could serve nước mắm, if needed, on the side (we didn't).
Enjoy with steamed jasmine rice.
If you want to make the dish authentic, the choice of chicken is crucial. Buy it from your Asian market and ask for the freshest gà đi bộ possible, literally a walking chicken. In Vietnam, gà đi bộ chickens 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.
Don't discard the onion-flavored oil; save it for your next salad dressing.
Rau răm are Vietnamese coriander leaves used in South Asian cooking. I buy them at the Asian market. If you don't have any, just use cilantro and Vietnamese mint. To prevent the herbs from darkening, chop them at the very last minute, toss them into the salad and serve immediately.
For the vegetarian version, check out the banana flower salad recipe.Published By: on June 21, 2011.