Hanoi: Ginger Chicken

Robin Boyle International Travel & Photos, South East Asian, Travel

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This post is a continuation from Hanoi: The Food.

To print a hard copy of the recipe in this post, use the Print button at the top right, then select the font size and whether or not photos are required.

A four-hour session at the Hanoi Cooking Centre was included as part of our organised gourmet tour of Vietnam. Every participant agreed it was a wonderful experience, extremely educational, and good value for money. We went away inspired and with recipes we wanted to try.

Soon after we met our instructor (and his assistants), he lead us back out of the school to the nearby Dong Xuan Market. We spent an hour being guided around the stalls, aisles and sections, learning as we went. Fascinating!

If one had to define Vietnamese cuisine in one word, surely it must be ‘freshness’. The wonderful displays of leafy greens and herbs say it all!

Back in the school, our focus was on the food of Hanoi and the north of Vietnam. We would learn about key ingredients, the need to allow plenty of time for preparation and about the artistic side of presentation. The degree of organisation by the school was hard to fault. Each of us had a work station. Extra touches took the stress away for everyone, such as having plates and bowls numbered so we knew when to use them.  Some ingredients had already been prepared for us, but the preparation of other ingredients and the final assembly and cooking of a dish were in our hands. At no stage did any of us feel daunted or out of our depth. We got to eat the results, which were brilliant.

The menu:

  • Sweet corn and coconut soup (no photo shown below)
  • Prawn and omelette spring rolls
  • Classic dipping sauce
  • Banana flower salad
  • Ginger chicken – Ga rang gung (recipe below)

All the photos in this blog post were taken during the class.

Ginger Chicken – Ga Rang Gung

This is a straightforward recipe that is succulent and moreish. It can be prepared beforehand and reheated. Use chicken thighs with the bone included as the dish will be more flavourful. The annatto is mainly used for colouring the dish yellow-orange; substitute some dried or fresh turmeric instead. If you don’t have kaffir lime leaves, substitute some lime or lemon zest. Or before putting the dish into the oven, add some lemon grass stalks or several whole leaves from a lemon or lime tree and remove them before serving.

Ingredients for two to four people
  • 4 chicken thighs (bone in), diced
  • 6 to 8 tsps fish sauce
  • 8 cm ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ tsps salt
  • 1 tsp annatto oil or up to 1 tsp powdered or fresh turmeric
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin strips (or substitute)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • steamed rice for serving

Leaving some meat attached, cut the bone out of each thigh. Cut the remaining chicken into bite-size pieces. Marinate the chicken (including bone) for 30 minutes (or longer if you wish) in a mixture of half the fish sauce, half the ginger and all the garlic, sugar and pepper.

Turn the oven to 180oC. Season chicken with salt.

Heat a little oil in a wok or large saucepan. Over medium heat, fry the chicken.

Add the annatto oil (if available) or turmeric. When the chicken is evenly coloured, add the remaining fish sauce.

Transfer to a claypot or casserole or similar that can go into the oven. Top with remaining ginger and place in the oven, covered, for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Toss in the kaffir lime leaves.

Serve the chicken pieces with steamed rice. Serves two as a main dish or four as part of a shared meal.

Equipment: Wok or frying pan; casserole dish or similar.

Degree of difficulty: 2/5 (not difficult).

We would learn much more about the food of Vietnam as we continued our travels.

Click here for the next post in our Vietnam journey: Halong Bay.