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5-Spice Beer Can Chicken (Ga Nuong Ngu Vi Huong)

Cooking a chicken on a beer can may seem gimmicky but you will be amazed at how tender and juicy the chicken comes out using this cooking method.  Every time I cook a chicken this way I am amazed with how simple the recipe is and how it never fails to wow my guests.  The rub with its abundant and varied spices adds such robust flavor to an otherwise plain chicken.  It may seem like there are too many spices in the rub but they all work together very nicely.  The brown sugar helps the chicken to get that nice golden color whether cooking on the grill or in the oven.  It really is a no fuss recipe and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

I use a disposable foil tray to catch the drippings.  You’ll be surprised at how much fat drips out of the chicken.  The tray catches everything and makes the clean-up super easy.

The below rub recipes makes approximately 1/4 cup of rub and it should be more than enough for a 5 pound chicken.

I am not a fan of chicken skin and will peel it off and discard it.  So that I don’t lose any of the wonderful flavors, I put the rub underneath the chicken skin.  Just gently work the rub underneath the skin with your finger.  The chicken skin is really stretchy and you can get to most areas of the chicken simply by lifting the skin and then running your index finger between the skin and meat to create pockets where you can then place the rub.

 Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Asian-Style Stuffed Cornish Game Hens.

Ingredients

for the Rub
1/2 Tbsp 5-spice powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp ginger powder
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 Tbsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne powder

5 lb whole chicken
1-12 oz can beer
1/4 small onion

Directions

To make the rub, add all spices into a measuring cup or bowl and mix well making sure to break-up any chunks of spice.  Alternatively, put all ingredients into a jar, seal tightly and shake the jar for 1 minute to combine the spices.

Open beer can and pour out 1/2 cup of beer into a glass.   Drink just the beer in the glass before proceeding to next step.  🙂  Use a can opener to make some additional holes on the top of the can.  Add 2 tsp of the rub into the can.  Coat the can with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  (This will make the chicken easier to remove after it’s done cooking.)

Remove giblets from inside the chicken.  Rinse the inside and outside of the chicken with cool water.  Shake off any excess water and then pat dry with paper towels.  Using kitchen shears cut off the flaps of fat at the opening of the chicken and discard.

Sprinkle spice mixture and rub it onto the chicken, coating it evenly.  Put some rub inside the chicken too.  Optionally, work the rub underneath the skin.

Hold chicken with one hand and beer can with the other.  Tilt beer can slightly and insert into the opening of the chicken.  Lower the chicken onto the beer can until it can stand on its own.  About 1 inch of the can should be visible.  Arrange the legs to help support the weight.

Place an onion wedge into the neck cavity and pull the skin around the onion to hold it in place.

Cooking in the Oven

Transfer chicken to a baking dish or sturdy disposable foil pan.

Arrange oven rack so it is at the lowest position.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 165 degrees.  After 1 hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer and then keep checking every 5-6 minutes until the it reaches 165 degrees.  (A 5 lb chicken takes approximately 1 1/2 hours.)

Cooking on the Grill

Transfer chicken to a sturdy disposable foil pan.  Set the grill temperature to Medium and place the tray over indirect heat.  (If your grill has 2 heat sources, turn on the one heat source and place the chicken on the opposite side so the chicken is not directly over the flame).  Close the lid and grill until the internal temperature of the breast meat is 165 degrees.  After 1 hour, check the temperature with a meat thermometer and then keep checking every 5-6 minutes until it reaches 165 degrees.

After Chicken is Done 

Remove from the oven or grill and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Use 2 pairs of tongs to remove the chicken from the beer can.  Clamp the chicken with one pair of tongs and use the other pair of tongs to extract the beer can.  Be careful with this step as the chicken, can and the beer inside is really hot.

Serve the chicken as a rice plate with broken rice, egg meatloaf, carrot and radish pickles, scallion oil and fish sauce dipping sauce.

Yields: 4-6 servings

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Grilled Pork with Rice Vermicelli (Bun Cha)

This dish is the perfect combination of smokey grilled meats, springy rice noodle, fresh herbs and tangy pickles.  Of course we can’t forget the essential dipping sauce which brings the whole dish together.  Serve it as a cold salad by mixing all the ingredients together.  Add the dipping sauce just before serving or serve on the side.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

8 each of Grilled Pork Patties and Skewers
6-8 cups cooked Rice Vermicelli
1 cup assorted fresh herbs: mint, spicy mint, Thai basil, perilla and Vietnamese balm
1 Persian cucumber
1/2 cup Carrot and Green Papaya Pickles – see below for the recipe
2 cups Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce

Directions 

Coarsely chop the fresh herbs.  Thinly slice the cucumber.

Layer rice vermicelli on the bottom of each bowl.  Sprinkle fresh herbs along the edge of the bowl and add the cucumber slices.

Add the grilled pork on top of the noodles.  Top with the pickles and garnish with more fresh herbs.  Serve with the dipping sauce.

Yields: 4 servings

Need a refresher on the different Asian herbs?  Check out my quick Guide to Vietnamese Herbs.

Carrot and Green Papaya Pickles

Ingredients
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 lb green papaya
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Directions

Peel the carrots.  Cut along the length of the carrot and remove a small v-shaped section.  Repeat this step, cutting around the carrot and make a total of 3 v-shaped cuts.  Now cut the carrot into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick.

Peel the green papaya.  Cut into wedges and remove the seeds. Slice the papaya into thin slices about 1/4-inch thick.

In a large bowl, whisk together water, vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved.  Add the carrots and papaya and marinate for at least one hour.  Drain the vegetables of the pickle juice before serving.

Yields: 4 cups

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Carrot and Radish Pickles (Do Chua)

Oh how I love pickles!  This dynamic duo accompanies every Vietnamese rice dish and banh mi/baguette sandwich.  I use this simple recipe and vary the size of the vegetables depending on how I plan to serve them.  This recipe uses matchstick or julienned carrots and radish.  To save time, I buy matchstick carrots at my grocery store (less prepping for me!) and then cut the radish to size.  You can also use this recipe to make a carrots only version.  The carrots in this type of pickle are finely shredded (I use a mandolin) and you often see it added to a dipping sauce for spring rolls or fish sauce dipping sauce.

I usually make 3 different variations (as shown in my video) and keep them ready for all of my dishes.  You can eat them right away but they definitely taste better after a few days.  A tip, the radish becomes stronger after pickling so be sure to store the pickles in an air-tight jar or bowl.

Watch the video below for instructions.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups matchstick (julienned) carrots
1 1/2 cups matchstick (julienned) Daikon radish
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Directions

Combine carrots and radish in small bowl.  Fill glass jar with vegetable medley.
In a small bowl stir together remaining ingredients until sugar is dissolved.
Pour liquid over vegetables filling the jar.  Use a spoon and immerse the vegetables into the liquid.  Allow veggies to pickle for at least one hour before serving.

Cover and store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Yields: 3 cups

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