Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Mystery grilled chicken sticks, Hoi An

Here's another of the many delicious things I ate in Hoi An: marinated chicken strips, expertly grilled to smoky carmelised perfection over charcoal and served with fresh rice papers, herbs, lettuce, cucumber etc and an interesting chilli sauce:

Grilled chicken - ready to be doused with sauce, garnished with greens and rolled in rice paper.
Unfortunately I can't tell you much about this dish as a) I'd never eaten it before, and b) my Vietnamese doesn't go much beyond 'hello' and 'thank you', and the lady who made it for me could speak even less English.  
The best I can do is guess....  I think the marinade had lemongrass, garlic, sugar, fish sauce & fresh turmeric in, and probably a few more things besides, and I have a feeling the 'interesting' sauce was given it's meaty body by chicken livers.  It was very tasty indeed, and nice to have a break from the ubiquitous nuoc cham too, much as I like the stuff.
Please do chip in if anyone knows the name or can add a little more detail here; it was really delicious and I'd like to have a go at knocking up my own version when I'm back in Blighty.
Smokey charcoal-grilled morsels.... in all their glory.

A squatting maestro at work.  If my Vietnamese wasn't so crap I might have got the recipe.


pieternel said...

Have not eaten yet (and it's 10.57 p.m.) and my mouth is watering....tomato&mozzarella salad will have to do tonight...

chefscott67 said...

Hey Andy, great blog!!! What you actually ate was "heo nướng đũa", "grilled pork on chopstick" I lived in Hoi An for some time, and this is what the local's call it. It's a central coast Danang/Hoi An and surrounds specialty. Google "bale well hoi an", it's the most famous place in Hoi An for this, although it's sold in lots of places, and on the street. I worked right across the street from where you bought yours(and when you did, too bad we didn't bump into each other), the lady is always there in the late afternoon serving it as a snack.

"thịt nướng" is the grilled pork part, a good recipe here:http://gastronomyblog.com/2011/06/27/thit-nuong-vietnamese-grilled-pork/ you are right about the turmeric, so just play around with the amount. It seems to be a central coast thing again, as most other places in Vietnam don't do the turmeric in the marinade bit.

For the sauce, it's called "nước leo" here's a good recipe: http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/asia/vietnamese/00/rec0018.html Unfortunately, I don't know the proper accent marks for the word "leo" which is important if you search in Vietnamese, because
"nước lèo gà" means chicken stock, and nước lèo bo" means beef stock. With my still limited ability to make out some of the subtle differences in the Vietnamese language when spoken, they sound exactly the same to me. Anyway, I digress....did she offer you some chili paste to mix in with the nouc leo? As I am sure you found, the food in Vietnam can be very region specific. Hoi An is in Quảng Nam province, and they make a different chili sauce in Quảng Nam called "tương ớt Quảng Nam" that I have never found in other parts of Vietnam. The difference is that it's fresh chili's not dried that are then fried in oil. It's super hot, but has a nice rich flavor. Unfortunately, when you do a search for it, the images shown are not what it usually looks like. It's usually a richer red color from the frying, sort of like a simpler Vietnamese version of a sambal.

It's very different from "ỚT KHÔ SA TẾ" (do a google image search) as that has dried chilies, lemongrass and garlic. It's traditional to mix the nuoc leo with as much or as little of the hoi an/quang nam chili paste as you can take. Hope this helps a little bit. We are living in Saigon now, and we have some Hoi An chili paste we brought with us, because you just can not buy it here!!! Keep up the good work. Peace, Scott