Vietnamese-style grilled chicken starts with an oriental base, and goes cross-country from there. It makes the best left-over chicken salad you have ever had. We always cook one to eat for dinner, and one for the next day. With our menu suggestions, we include some ideas on how to use the "other" chicken.
2 small chickens, backbone removed and flattened
1 pod of garlic (not clove - the whole pod)
1 large bunch cilantro
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp white pepper corns
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
optional: dash of sesame oil and dash of fish sauce
Heat the coriander seeds and white peppercorns in a heavy skillet until they begin to smoke and crackle. Keep moving them so they don't burn. Remove from heat, and grind them in a spice grinder, or coffee grinder reserved for spices only.
Then, combine all ingredients in a food processor, and process until it makes a smooth, green liquid. Splatchcock the chickens (that means remove the backbone, flatten the breast bone, and lay the chicken out flat, as in the photo at right). Put the chickens into two Ziploc freezer bags, and distribute the liquid equally into the two bags. Marinate 2 hours or overnight...the taste just gets better!
Use the hot side/cool side method of laying the charcoal. When the fire is hot (about 400 degrees F), where you can't hold your hand two to three inches off the grill for more than two or three seconds, put the birds, on a foil tray, inside down over the fire. After 10 mins, pull it out over the fire and put a cast iron skillet or tortillia pan plus a foil-covered brick on top of it. Again, once it goes down, don't move it until you get good grill marks. In about 5-7 mins, when the skin is dark and roasted, remove the pan, flip the chicken, put the pan back on and let it cook until that side browns (another 5-7 mins).
When this is accomplished, flip the chickens back over onto a new foil tray (no cross contamination with the tray that held the raw chicken), and move them to the cooler part of the grill. Rotate them every five mins or so, for 15-20 mins, until the thermometer reads about 160 degrees when inserted into the thick part of the thigh.
Remove from the fire, cover with foil, and let them rest for about 5 mins.
Grilled pineapple wedges and ice cream
Clean, de-bone and chop the leftover chicken, and serve it over a large salad of fresh baby greens, sweet peppers, fresh sprouts, canned water chestnuts, and top with fried chow mein noodles. Use the oriental vinaigrette!
Or - clean, de-bone and chop the leftover chicken, and toss it with 1 cup store-bought Chinese mixed vegetables. Heat in a skillet 3 Tbs. Hoisin sauce and 1 Tbs soy sauce, toss in the chicken-vegetable mix and stir until heated through. Serve over the leftover coconut rice.
Vietnamese Grilled Chicken
MOM's Oriental Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Crisco oil (short 1 tsp)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs sugar
pinch Kosher salt
dash Crystal Hot Sauce
cover and shake to combine all - keep refrigerated until needed.