I apologize for the delay in posting lately, as I’ve been overseas and devoting all my time towards volunteer work in Vietnam. Now, I’m back, and over my jet lag (well, sorta). I spent some quality time with my mom today, and jumped at the opportunity to help her make cơm gà for tonight’s dinner. Cơm gà is a Vietnamese dish that is viewed as a comfort food – as with many other cultures, there is some variation of chicken and rice that is a family favorite. Here, the flavor of toasted jasmine rice with garlic, in addition to shredded chicken tossed with rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), is served with a garlic and ginger sauce that is just a burst of vibrant flavors waiting to happen. It’s one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes – basic, lean, and full of flavor. Thanks, Mom, for giving me the gift of good food and always being a great teacher!
Cơm Gà – Vietnamese Chicken and Rice
serves about 6-8
1 whole chicken, approximately 5 lbs, cut into quarters with the backbone saved
6 cups water
1 + 1/2 tsp salt, divided
3 cups jasmine rice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced thinly and soaked in 1/2 cup cold water + 1 Tbsp white (or rice) vinegar for 30 minutes
1 cup Vietnamese coriander leaves, roughly chopped
For the ginger-garlic sauce:
1 1/4 Tbsp finely minced ginger
2 tsp finely minced garlic
1-2 Thai bird chilis (depending how much heat you can take)
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
Juice from 1 lime
2 Tbsp cold water
1. In a large saucepan, add the 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat and add 1/2 tsp of salt. Add the chicken and turn the heat down to medium-low, skimming the scum off the surface of the liquid every few minutes. Continue to poach the chicken for about 30 minutes until cooked through and meat is no longer pink on the inside. Place the chicken parts in a separate bowl and cool to room temperature. Reserve the chicken broth liquid.
2. Rinse the jasmine rice and drain to dry, about 30 minutes. In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, add the minced garlic and the 3 cups of drained jasmine rice. Toast the rice, continually stirring the rice and garlic mixture until light brown, about 15 minutes. Place the mixture into a rice cooker, and add 3 cups of the reserved chicken broth. Cook the rice according to rice cooker directions.
3. When the chicken is cooled to touch, shred into thin pieces. Combine the shredded chicken with 1 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp salt. Add the sliced onions and Vietnamese coriander (rau ram). For the ginger-garlic sauce, combine all ingredients and taste; add more lime juice, water, sugar, or fish sauce to taste.
4. To plate the dish, add 1 cup of rice and top with the shredded chicken mixture. Arrange sliced cucumbers on the plate and set aside a tablespoon of the ginger-garlic sauce to drizzle on top of the dish as needed.