My friend May Ly of loveurbelly is sharing her family’s recipe for Vietnamese Hainan Chicken with all of you today! May is one of my favorite bloggers to follow on instagram (warning: her pictures will make you hungry) and I’m so glad to have her here on My Heart Beets!
I have just moved from Australia back to Vietnam where I left as a six month old baby. My parents are back in Australia and I am missing mum’s cooking a lot. This is one of the dishes we made together before I moved this year.
Vietnamese Hainan Chicken (also known as Ga Hai Nam) is traditionally a whole poached chicken served with a ginger dipping sauce (nuoc mam cham) and rice that has been cooked in chicken broth. Depending on where you go, it will vary slightly with different dipping sauces and condiments. This traditional dish originates from the small island of Hainan which is located between Vietnam & China.
One of my favorite dishes growing up, it is so simple yet the flavors just make me want to go back for more. The sweet, salty tang of the nuoc mam gung dipping sauce with the aromatic bite of ginger together with the soft poached chicken, coriander, spring onions & sesame oil. This is my mum’s version which is very simple to make and can be prepared ahead of time as the chicken is served at room temperature, I love this version as she uses a lot of ginger in the dipping sauce. She also grows her own ginger (you can check out how to do it here), so whenever it’s harvesting time, this is the first dish she makes.
Since going mostly Paleo, I did cut out rice initially but have started eating it occasionally again. If you don’t eat rice you can still cook some cauliflower rice in some of the broth until tender and save the remaining broth to drink later on its own or throw in some more bones and simmer it for a few more hours for a deeper richer broth.
The Vietnamese free range chickens tend to be leaner and more chewy than the western free range chickens which are usually fatter and more tender. Either type of chicken tastes great to me with all the flavors combined, but if you are used to a more soft tender chicken, stick to the organic free range chickens from the supermarket or you can go to the Asian butcher for a lean free range chicken.
If you eat rice, you can cook the rice replacing water with the chicken broth according to the rice packet instructions. When dipping the chicken, make sure you scoop up as much ginger onto the chicken as you can, it just warms your belly right up!
- 2 whole chickens approx 2.5 pounds each
- 1 onion peeled & halved
- 1- inch knob fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 spring onions
- small bunch cilantro
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- freshly cracked black pepper
To Make Chicken:
- Wash and pat dry the 2 whole chickens and place them in a large pot.
- Fill the pot with enough water to just cover the chicken. Add the onion, ginger and salt and bring to a boil. Once the water starts boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take it off the heat and allow it to rest for another 30 minutes
- Remove the chickens and chop with bone in or debone (I prefer bone in, you need a meat cleaver to do this, I start with kitchen scissors and cut the chicken in half lengthways, then slice off the drumstick & wing, then thigh, then slice off the breast and chop in smaller pieces and finally chop the rest of the chicken in pieces).
- Assemble on 2 plates and drizzle 1 tablespoon of sesame oil over each plate of chicken. Sprinkle the spring onions, cilantro and freshly cracked black pepper on top.
- Serve with the dipping sauce.
To Make Dipping Sauce:
- In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, water, coconut sugar & vinegar, stir to dissolve sugar
- Add the lime juice, and adjust if necessary (more water, sugar or vinegar to get the right balance of sweet, sour & salt to your taste).
- Add the ginger and chilli if using.
I am a mother of three beautiful boys, born in Saigon, raised in Australia and recently returned to Vietnam with my family. We began our real food journey in early 2012 and also started learning about fermented foods and the healing power of food to help heal my son’s health issues and also mine. I am passionate about sharing the knowledge I have gained on our journey and hope to inspire others to living a real food healthy lifestyle. You can read more about my journey here or follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.