There are hundreds of chicken recipes in Vietnam as well as the world. The strange and impressive Grilled chicken in clay (Ga nuong dat set or Ga dap dat in Vietnamese) is a favorite dish in provinces in Mekong Delta region. The dish appeared thousands of years ago. I have been told a tale of Vietnam about how the Ga nuong dat recipe was created. A very poor beggar stole a chicken. When he was making a fire in order to grill the stolen chicken, he was caught. The beggar was scared so that he cover the chicken with a layer of clay and threw it into the fire. The well-done chicken in clay tasted great. Since then, many people have cooked chicken in this way and fell in love with its amazing taste. They also call this dish “Beggar’s chicken”.
In the past, Grilled chicken in clay had been familiar with people in Mekong Delta. When they tilled and sowed the land, they hunted for chicken in the forests and cooked the Grilled chicken in clay. Eating Ga nuong dat set while sipping some rice wine is a unique feature of Mekong Delta culture. There are different ways to make this dish in different places in Mekong Delta. They can simply wrap the chicken in clay, put into a fire, the chicken will be ready after 1-2 hours. Dong Thap province was famous for an impressive and complex Grilled chicken in clay recipe.
To make Ga nuong dat set, Dong Thap people choose a garden chicken which meat is crunchier and firmer than farmed chicken. Kill the chicken, coagulate its blood in order to have blood pudding make a hole at asshole of the chicken, carefully get the organs of the chicken out. Prepare and marinate the organs, fill the chicken with blood pudding, marinated organs, lime leaves and minced lemongrass which remove the chicken odor. After marinating the chicken, wrap it in lotus leaves or banana leaves, then a layer of clay. Putting the clay onto the chicken decides the quality of this dish. Clay is got from a river bank, mixed with water until sticky enough. The layer of clay is not too thin not too thick to make sure the chicken is not too overcooked or undercooked. The chicken in clay is grilled on a fire from very dry wood and rice straws for 2 hours. The sticky layer of clay must turn dry and hard. They test if the chicken is ready by using a chopstick or a skewer to poke the clay. If the clay does not stick to the chopstick, the dish is ready.
Unwrap the chicken, its leathers are removed easily with the clay, the shining yellow skin of the chicken is revealed and a great smell spreads in the air. The chicken is shredded, mixed with salt, ground pepper, lime juice and Vietnamese mint. Light yellow chicken meat pieces taste sweet-tasty, tender and a little crunchy. The skin of the chicken tastes crunchy. The dish is a little salty, a little sour and a little hot. I am sure that it can satisfy the most difficult diners.
Coming to the beautiful and peaceful Mekong Delta, especially Dong Thap province which has the rich and unique culture and cuisine, travelers should not miss this distinctive Grilled chicken in clay.
The chicken is wrapped in sticky clay
The chicken in clayed is covered with rice straws
Burn the straws for 1-2 hours
The clay turns black after grilling in straw fire
Remove the clay
Remove the chicken leather
Eat the chicken with a mixture of chili and salt