Gà Xào Xả ớt Lemongrass Chili Chicken – 19 of 365

Gà xào xả ớt

Anything and everything can be delivered right to my door high above Saigon, and I must admit the availability of cheap, tasty food is addictive.   Sometimes a long day of flying the crazy skies just drains me, and arriving home knowing it starts all over again the next day with a 4am alarm sucks out whatever is left.  A guy’s got to eat regardless, and the menus on Vietnammm.com are our go to source for delivery of any kind of food imaginable in situations like this.   Actually the simplicity of it all has become more like addictive crack for me.  A few clicks of the mouse later on this English website brought my latest order to a close, and a text message confirmed food would arrive within 30 minutes.  Now how freaking easy is this?

Quan Bui in District 1 piqued my interest with its extensive list of Vietnamese dishes equally at home on a menu in America.  In fact, in all the time I have been in Vietnam I have wondered where in the heck the lemongrass chicken and beef with satay sauce from back home were lurking.  This game of hide and seek has finally been put to bed.  Everything on offer in the metal and glass food cases over here seems in no way similar to the restaurant choices back home.   Indeed, our American version of Vietnamese seems to be more Chinese just minus the syrupy sauces and such a dish I craved.

Quan Bui’s $2 chicken with lemongrass and chili ends any similarities with its $9 cousin back in the US right there with the name.  American palates, at least this one, prefer strips of chicken most likely originating from a boneless, skinless breast patty at the grocery store.  My more authentic takeaway chicken was most likely making its final rounds of the neighborhood on foot only hours before it met the pot.  Instead of neatly sanitized slices of breast meat chicken, this meal was as if a knife just started hacking away at various bird parts.   The coating of salt, sweet and lemongrass was tasty enough, but I had to laboriously pick chunks of meat from the bones and skin in order to feed my hunger.

Quan Bui’s online menu gave no indication of the lemongrass chicken’s Vietnamese name or ingredients, so I packed a piece into a plastic container and hauled the specimen to work.  Surely one of the flight attendants could identify it and offer some insight.   Jackpot!  Our great purser, Mr. Hai (or Anthony as he prefers) quickly labeled it as gà xào xả ớt and wrote out the common ingredients.   gà – chicken.  xào – fried.  xả – lemongrass.  ớt – chili.  Did you ever dream you’d be learning random Vietnamese words?  You aren’t alone.  I didn’t either.   Maybe now you can embarrass yourself around town just as I do with my slowly growing vocabulary.

A very good combination of fish sauce, chopped lemongrass, sugar, salt, shallots and some sliced chili peppers give this dish its distinct flavor.  I noted that only in Vietnam could fermented fish liquid grace a chicken dish with its saltiness, but I must say this dish without fish sauce would not work.   Though I am still in the training wheel phase of my food journey and largely prefer my poultry minus fat and bone, I must say this dish is so much better than the Americanized blandness thank God an ocean away.   I have an entire menu to work through now.  And best of all this arrives right at my door neatly packaged with napkins and plastic silverware.

Wow…The lazy man’s food tour right at my couch and coffee table 14 floors above all the elements…I love the convenience of it.  No matter whether gà xào xả ớt comes from the street or home delivery, I like it a lot and it’s food experiences like this that make me feel so fortunate to live in colorful and vibrant Vietnam.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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