It’s time for us to compile our first Vietnamese street food! This dish is a specialty of the city where I come from: Nha Trang. It’s a beautiful city that lies along the coast, and so the weather is warm and inviting all year round. From the people who have already visited Nha Trang, I only hear positive reviews, never anything negative, ever. And the city owns a great deal of it to its street food. Honestly the food here must be one of the best in Vietnam (I may be a bit biased but many people would agree with me). Now to get back to Com Ga, I must say this is a simple dish, as in there is no complex cooking step. It’s very easy to make and the taste is just sublime. In a small plate of Com Ga, you can find all tastes and textures: sweet and sour pickles, salty and spicy fish sauce, buttery egg sauce; the chicken chunks are juicy and fried shallots crispy; not to mention the freshness of Vietnamese mint and cucumber is just delightedly crunchy. Hmm so yummy!!! The best part of it is you can find most of the ingredients in the supermarket. You only need to go to the Asian store for Vietnamese mint and green papaya.
We will break down the steps to make it more simply. First you need to prepare your pickled carrot and green papaya one day prior. You can find the recipe here.
After keeping the pickles in your fridge for one day, we can start to make the dish.
For the fish sauce recipe, click right here. Be sure to add ginger in this fish sauce, it’s crucial for the success of this dish.
Ingredients (for 2 people):
Half of a chicken (or 3 chicken breasts)
3 cups of Thai rice
Fat of the chicken (optional)
A pinch of turmeric powder
Half a cucumber
1 egg yolk
Half an onion
The finished fish sauce
Pickled carrot and green papaya
Make the chicken:
Now if you want to make rice with chicken fat which is a Vietnamese traditional practice, instead of using chicken breasts, use half of the chicken and don’t trim the fat off of it.
Boil the chicken with salt and half an onion for 25 minutes or until it’s cooked through.
While the chicken is being massaged by hot water, there will be yellow fat floating on the surface of the broth, skim this fat and store it to make rice, or you can discard it and your meal will be healthier this way.
When the chicken is done, put it in a bowl to cool down, store the broth to cook other dishes.
Make that golden rice:
Wash the rice and keep the second batch of water for your fermented rice water if you want. Yes, take care of your stomach with this dish and do a skincare with the fermented rice water that you get from it (article about fermented rice water here).
We will cook rice with a rice cooker and so the water and rice proportion should be 1:2.
Add in a pinch of turmeric powder and salt (and that chicken fat that you skimmed earlier if you want to try the traditional fatty chicken rice) and stir to dissolve. Set the cooker and just wait for your rice to be cooked.
Make the crispy fried shallots:
While waiting for the rice, slide the shallots into rings and fry them just like you would with your crispy fried onion. Sprinkle a little bit of salt in vegetable oil and fry your shallots until they become golden then quickly transfer them onto paper towels. Help the paper towels do their work properly by spreading the shallot rings evenly. Be sure to dry the shallots completely for them to remain crispy.
Make the luscious egg yolk sauce:
It’s a very simple sauce, just like mayonnaise. You just separate the egg yolk and put it in a bowl. Now you can make this sauce by hand or use your egg hand blender. Personally I like to make this sauce by hand. If you use your hand blender, be sure to beat the egg yolk gently. First, break your egg yolk and then add a little bit of oil, just a couple of drops, and beat to mix egg with oil evenly. Then add in more oil and repeat the process. As you go along, increase the amount of oil eventually (up to 1 tablespoon) until you get the consistency of mayonnaise sauce, which means when you raise your mixer the sauce should be glued to the tool for at least 3 seconds before falling down. The finished sauce should have a bright yellow color and no longer smells of egg. It shouldn’t taste like raw egg either.
When the rice is cooked, time to take care of small matters:
Pluck out the leaves of Vietnamese mint and wash them well.
Tear your boiled chicken into stripes
Cut cucumber diagonally or however you like them.
Now to assemble the dish the Nha Trang way: First put in a layer of golden rice then add the chicken stripes. After that, put in a small handful of pickled carrot and green papaya, mint leaves and cucumber slices. Lastly add a tablespoon of egg sauce on top and sprinkle on the crispy fried shallots. Serve this dish with a generous bowl of fish sauce so that every Com Ga bite has fish sauce on it.
Finally, a small reminder: This dish is quite heavy from the chicken fat, the egg sauce and crispy fried shallots, so it may be more fit for a fall meal or in small portion in summer, just a little of it can go a long way. I ate this for lunch yesterday and I was full until dinner time, no snack needed. Have fun with Com Ga!
Cover photo: Thao Uyen
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!