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Free-range chicken with kaffir lime leaves, a specialty of An Giang

Created 10 August 2021
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I hope the Covid-19 pandemic ends soon so that I can return to An Giang to enjoy gà đốt lá chúc (chicken grilled with kaffir lime or citrus hystrix leaves), a dish that I ate when I made a tour to the province's Ô Thum Lake in 2019.

Lá chúc is a kind of leaf from trees that grow in the wild. They are also planted all over the province's Tri Tôn and Tịnh Biên districts. Local people in these areas are the best at using this special spice to grill chicken that puts An Giang’s cuisine on the map.

Gà đốt lá chúc (chicken grilled with kaffir lime leaves), a speciality of An Giang that attracts any eaters and gourmets. Photo laodong.vn

The dish was originally from Cambodia but a local resident, Huỳnh Văn Thúc, told me that it has been widely available in the province for over a century.

He said there are many areas in the province that make this dish but the best version is cooked by the cooks in Tri Tôn District’s Ô Thum Lake. This is where crowds of travellers flock to enjoy both the natural beauty and virgin landscape but also the local speciality.

The dish is made with a free-range chicken (a local chicken raised naturally in hilly land) weighing from 1.3-1.8kg. This kind of chicken has firm and savoury meat compared with battery chickens, said Thúc.

Travellers and visitors never forget the special taste of gà đốt lá chúc from the province's O Thum Lake. Photo laodong.vn

Unlike other places, when a customer wishes to eat this dish, they need to ask for it. The cook will dress a chicken on the spot for the guest then marinate it with spices, broth mix, citronella, garlic, chilli and the cut kaffir lime leaves for 30 minutes, he said.

To cook the chicken the chef bastes it with cooking oil and honey then places it in a big cast iron pot which is already lined with citronella and kaffir lime leaves. It is cooked over a big fire for the first 15 minutes and then a medium fire for 10 minutes more.

Lá chúc (a kind of leaf from trees that grow wild in the province) is a special spice that puts this dish on the map. Photo dulichvietnam.com

When the chicken is ready its skin is in an annatto colour and crispy with a special aroma that attracts hungry mouths.

Thúc said the dish is most enjoyable when dipped in lime juice mixed with chilli sauce and pepper and eaten with fresh herbs such as coriander, saw leaf, balm mint, basil and cut cabbage threads.

Chef Phạm Tuấn Hải, who was also one of the judges of the Việt Nam Master Chef programme, said he has travelled to many places in the country to learn more about traditional dishes.

He said that this chicken is very different from other roasted chicken in the north. This An Giang dish is quite genuine with a special, delicious flavour of kaffir lime leaves, which is fragrant without any bitterness.

The dish is more enjoyable when dipping in mixed lime juice, chilli and pepper and be eaten with fresh herbs. Photo 2dep.vn

He added that when visiting An Giang he has never missed enjoying this dish.

“I like dipping the dish in the sauce which includes kaffir lime leaves and roasted garlic,” he said, noting that he learned how to cook the dish from locals. He said it is in his restaurant chain’s menu so that guests from the north can enjoy it.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been spreading to many regions in the country so it can be cooked at home to increase human resistance,” Hải advised.

 

Source: VNN

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