Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Com Ga/ Vietnamese Chicken with Mint Rice

Vietnamese Com Ga is probably one of the simplest, homeliest meals of our culture. Simple as it is, it's still one of my favorite meals.
I love how simple everything is, yet there's so much flavor, and the chicken really shines through. That's why it's super important to use free-range chicken in this recipe, because since the chicken is your main ingredient, you really want to use the best quality available. What makes the meal spectacular though, I feel, is the ginger fish sauce! It's sweet, tangy, salty and sooo delicious. Actually almost any kind of fish sauce makes me happy! The mint, cucumbers and marinated onions add great freshness to the dish as well.

The soup is optional but if you've never had fresh chicken stock before, please try this! With the leftover stock, you simply add some fish sauce to season it, then some fresh "Gai Xanh." I'm not sure what the English name of this is but it's similar to bok choy, so you can also substitute that. The broth is just so rich with flavor, it's incredible. I love this meal especially because though it's super healthy, you feel so satisfied after eating it.

Com Ga/ Vietnamese Chicken with Mint Rice
Yields: 4 servings

1 small, whole, free-range chicken
2 cups rice
4 cups chicken stock (reserved from cooking the chicken)
1 cup mint leaves, julienned
1/2 large white onion, sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 persian cucumbers, washed and sliced
nuoc mam gung, for serving (recipe below)

For the soup:
gai xanh or vietnamese bok choy (regular bok choy is fine too), roughly chopped
fish sauce, to taste
black pepper, to taste

In a large pot, place the chicken (whole) inside. Fill the pot with enough water to almost cover the chicken. Heat over medium-high heat until the water is boiling, then reduce heat to medium to allow the water to simmer and the chicken to cook, about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to rest and the water to cool down. Once cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the stock, but DO NOT discard the water. Cut the chicken into small pieces, for easier eating.

In the meantime, put the rice in a large bowl with a few cups of water. Gently swirl your fingers in the bowl to allow the starch to separate from the grains. Once the water becomes white, drain and repeat this process twice more. With each time, the water will get less cloudy. The idea is not to get rid of all the starch, just enough so that the rice will not be too sticky or too dry when cooked. Put the rice in a sieve and drain until the rice is fairly dry. In a rice cooker, combine the rice with 4 cups of chicken stock and cook according to your machine's setting (alternatively, you can also cook this on the stovetop). Right before serving, stir in the mint. You do not want to do this ahead of time because the mint will turn brown.

With the remaining broth, you can either save it for future use or make soup. To make the soup, re-heat the remaining broth over medium heat until just boiling. Add fish sauce, to taste. Add the gai xanh/ Vietnamese bok choy until just wilted. Turn off the heat. Enjoy sprinkled with some black pepper, alongside your Com Ga.

In a medium bowl, combine the onions, vinegar and black pepper. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to allow the vinegar to soften and marinate the onions. To serve, place some rice on a plate. Top with some marinated onions, cucumbers, pieces of chicken and a drizzle of the nuoc mam guon. Enjoy!

Gai Xanh/ Vietnamese Boy Choy:
The ginger-fish sauce concoction & the marinated onions:
Nuoc Mam Gung/ Vietnamese Ginger Fish Sauce

2 - 3 limes, juiced
2 tbsn. fish sauce
2 tbsn. sugar, to taste
2-inch piece of ginger, finely minced
1 red chili, finely diced (optional)

Combine everything until well mixed and the sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to use.


  1. I LOVE when you post traditional viet dishes, my favorite was ur bun tit nuong, cant wait to try this one...

  2. Gorgeous meal. Sounds delicious and your images are breathtaking! Cheers, Michelle

  3. Aw the drawings of utensils are sweet. I don't eat chicken but the mint rice sounds refreshingly delish.

  4. ditto! I LOVE that photo with the fork/ knife =D