Spicy Chicken – 81 of 365

Spicy Chicken

I got to thinking about the path a Vietnamese guy in America’s food journey would travel.   Would he work his way down the dollar menu at Wendy’s?  Would a stale chicken salad sandwich bought at a gas station complete with the requisite gelatinous mayonnaise both fascinate and repulse him?  As we eat our way through Vietnam’s relatively fresh and healthy choices one bite at a time, my unsuspecting doppelganger in America is probably becoming a supersized relic of his former self from all that calorie laden restaurant mess back home.

After his friends and family in Saigon read about his some of his culinary finds, do they rush to the temples begging Buddha to spare his waistline?  Will he get a parliamentary commendation of bravery upon his return home for going up against our cuisine?  To be fair, our own Congressional Medal of Honor would be in order for consuming some of the craziness over here.

Men’s Health Magazine attempts to steer us towards better options with the “Eat This, Not That” feature.   From time to time lists of America’s top ten deadliest restaurant dishes ooze up out of the deep fryer to scare us into short lived diets.  I’ll admit the book and movie Supersize Me even changed the way I look at fast food.

And speaking of fast food, the plastic wall mounted image of Colonel Sanders at my apartment complex watches over all who enter the narrow street separating two of the highrises.  Just inside this alley is Café 91 which has provided so many great one dollar meals just beyond the Colonels’ gaze.  Café 91’s metal and glass serving case with all the pans of interesting vittles really does say eat this and not that fried chicken mess just up the block.  And what do you want to bet all the food this friendly family owned business cooks started down the block in our street market.

Part of me would love to learn how to ask in Vietnamese where the friendly owner buys her meats.  “Pardon me but is that chicken meat I just saw lying on a cardboard box out in the sun with flies buzzing about?”  The old saying rings true, don’t ever ask the question if you don’t want to hear the answer.   With probably two dozen meals from Café 91 under my belt, I can happily report no gastrointestinal mishaps have resulted so no need to rock the boat with unneeded questions anyhow.  There’s obviously something to be said for eating fresh.

My latest find is small chicken legs sautéed in soy, fish sauce, chili peppers and onion.   The brown watery sauce is the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and heat with a bed of steamed white rice mopping up the flavors.   Instead of fries with that, a stir fry vegetable and small portion of soup accompany the main course and a banana is a much healthier dessert than an ice cream cone at KFC.

Come to think of it, a quarter of small pieces would hardly qualify as an appetizer in America, but in Vietnam this constitutes a delicious right sized meal.  To borrow a phrase from the almighty Micky D’s, “I’m loving it!”

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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