Whilst traveling through Vietnam a few years ago, we spent a day in the beautiful city of Hoi An. Famous for silk production and nighttime Lunar celebrations, it is also home to one of the country’s most iconic dishes … chicken rice, or Cơm Gà Hội An.
Com Ga – Vietnamese Chicken Rice
The preparation of this dish is very similar to Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup), so if you’ve made that already, this should be easy to pick up.
- Large stock pot (minimum 8 litres capacity)
- Fat separator or ladle
- Chopping board
- Large saucepan
- Wok (optional)
- Sharp knives
- Meat/Poultry lifters (optional)
- Kitchen towel
Traditional Cơm Gà Hội An is made chickens called Ga Ta. To quote a friend who lives in Vietnam:
“Chicken is the core of this dish and Vietnamese chicken used in Cơm Gà Hội An is called Ga Ta. This means the chicken are fed naturally, not industrialised, let the chicken live like in a natural environment.” – Them Pham
They have a distinctive, rich taste and a yellow colour in the skin which is imparted to the rice. This type of chicken is available from supermarkets as corn-fed free range chickens.
Stock and Chicken
- 2kg whole chicken
- 6 litres water
- 1 large onion, unpeeled
- 4 spring onions
- Large piece of ginger, unpeeled
- 1 tbsp fish oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
Assembling the Dish
- Stock and cut/shredded chicken pieces
- 3 spring onions
- 400g jasmine rice
- 15g ginger
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp diced lemongrass
Condiments for Serving
- Fresh basil and coriander (cilantro)
- Pickled carrot and daikon
- Dipping fish sauce (nước mắm chấm)
Making the Stock and Cooking the Chicken
- Microwave unpeeled ginger, onion and spring onion for 90 seconds.
- Peel and quarter onion. Slice ginger into large chunks.
- Wash and clean chicken under a warm running tap.
- Add water, fish oil, sugar and salt to stock pot. Stir gently.
- Add washed whole chicken, spring onion, onion and ginger to stock pot. Bring to boil.
- When water in stockpot is boiling, cover and reduce to a very low heat to simmer.
- Remove scum from stock surface using a ladle or a fat separator. Simmer for 30 mins.
- Repeat above step 2 more times, then take off heat and perform a final scum removal.
- Remove and carve/shred chicken. Set aside and keep warm until final assembly.
- Remove and discard remaining solids from stock.
Assembling the Dish
- Wash rice thoroughly and drain.
- Add rice and 1 litre of stock to pan. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 2 mins.
- Remove from heat. Cover pan with kitchen towel and large plate. Leave for 8 mins, drain.
- Cut spring onion stalk into thin white strips, cut green stem into small chunks. Crush garlic cloves, finely chop ginger.
- Heat groundnut oil in wok. Add lemongrass, garlic, ginger and white spring onion stalks. Stir fry for 1-2 mins until ingredients are browned.
- Add toasted sesame seed oil and then rice to wok, stir fry for further 2 mins.
- Serve rice and chicken with garnish of coriander and chopped spring onion stalks.
Hints, Tips and Pictures
- See the hints, tips and pictures section of the Pho Ga recipe for some general pointers.
- Spring onions are easier to handle when making the stock if they are tied into knots.
- The dipping fish sauce (nước mắm chấm) is available from some Asian supermarkets. It has a very strong, pungent and distinctive taste if you’re not used to it.
- For future meals, some chicken pieces can be re-heated by boiling for a couple of minutes in left-over stock. The rice is prepared in the same way.
- If corn-fed free range chickens are not available, the yellow colour can be faked by adding 2 tsp of turmeric to the stock as it cooks.
- Some of the jasmine rice can be substituted for sticky rice to add some texture.