Growing up in Allentown, PA, my family would take trips down to Washington, DC to visit my great aunt and uncle. As an active kid, I always dreaded going down to DC because I had to spend most of the time cooped up inside my great aunt and uncle's apartment. The highlights of the trips were the amazing home cooked Vietnamese meals prepared by my great aunt. Her roasted chicken (ga ro ti) and sticky rice were my favorite dishes.
It's been over two decades since I had ga ro ti. I never see it at restaurants (at least in San Francisco), as most Viet places serve grilled chicken (ga nuong) with five spice. So last week, I decided to make Vietnamese roasted chicken. I called up my parents to get advice. Unfortunately, neither of my parents make the dish and my great aunt passed away several years ago. My dad said, "marinate it in soy, fish sauce, garlic and a little sugar"...like every other Viet dish, not much help there. I was on my own with this one.
I remember my great aunt pan fried her chicken low and slow. I believe this "roasting" method was used because traditional ovens weren't available in Vietnam back in the day, unless you were wealthy. My great aunt's chicken had an extra crispy skin and the meat was shreddable by hand, almost like a confit. To get this texture, the chicken needs to be cooked longer than normal.
I tried the pan frying technique and produced a good ga ro ti, but it required a lot of time and flipping of the chicken (props to my great aunt!). I debated covering the chicken, but was afraid the skin would get soft from the moist heat. Next, I tried browning the chicken in an oven-proof skillet and then finishing it off in the oven. I liked this method best. It produced a nice crispy skin and I didn't have to stand by the stove top. If you are thinking, why don't you skip the pan frying and just roast it in the oven, then my answer is... I have more control over browning with a skillet and the brown bits in the pan can be de-glazed to make a flavorful dirty sticky rice with scallions.
Hungry Bear and I enjoyed the ga ro ti so much, we made it again for Sunday night dinner along with the dirty sticky rice, stir-fried hollow greens and a light carrot cake for dessert. The chicken had a nice salty, garlicky flavor with a crackling skin. I never eat all of my chicken skin. I usually try a little and then pass the rest to Jane, who likes everything full fat. But the skin on this roasted chicken was so good, I wasn't sharing it with anyone! The perfect complement to the chicken was the dirty sticky rice, which has scallions and all the wonderful flavors from the de-glazed frying pan!
My great aunt's ga ro ti will always be number one in my heart. I may not have re-created her roasted chicken exactly, but I got pretty damn close!
SNDsters: Jane, Mark, Hungry Bear, Chuck
Vietnamese Roasted Chicken Recipe (Ga Ro Ti)
- 2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, plus additional for frying
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- Trim excess skin and visible fat from chicken thighs using kitchen shears; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce and oil until well combined. Stir in garlic. Add the chicken thighs and evenly distribute the marinade between the thighs. For extra flavor, stuff a little garlic and marinade under the skin. Cover and marinate for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350°F. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick, oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet skin side down, reduce heat to medium and fry until the skin is deep golden brown, about 6 - 8 minutes. Flip chicken and brown other side for 2-3 minutes; set chicken aside. Don't overcrowd chicken during browning; work in batches if necessary.
- Drain rendered fat from pan and remove any burnt garlic; leaving a thin film of oil in the skillet. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up and place into oven. Roast chicken for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the thighs. To check for doneness, poke the chicken with a knife; the juices should run clear (bone-in thighs 170°F internal temp, boneless thighs 165°F internal temp). Remove chicken from skillet and serve with dirty sticky rice.
Makes 4 servings with sticky rice
Dirty Sticky Rice with Scallions Recipe
- 6 cups cooked sweet/glutinous rice (3 cups uncooked rice)
- 10-12 green onions/scallions (white and green parts), sliced
- 1-2 tablespoons chicken stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- After roasting the chicken, drain rendered fat from the skillet, leaving a thin coating of grease. Place skillet on burner over medium heat. Add green onions and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. De-glaze skillet by adding a splash of chicken stock and heat through, about 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked sticky rice to pan. Using two wooden spoons, fold the scallions evenly into rice. The rice should be a light brown color filled with scallions and de-glazed chicken and garlic bits.
Makes 4-6 servings
[tags]vietnamese, roasted, chicken, thighs, ga ro ti, garlic, easy, sticky rice, sweet rice, scallions[/tags]