Vietnamese gingery chicken wings (gà rang gừng). Delicious Vietnam #5

Memories of a northern village. Also an entry for Delicious Vietnam. Hosted by yours truly. Details here.

A corner of a northern Vietnamese village

I love my father’s hometown, a small village in the Red River Delta. A typical northern Vietnamese village, where the majority of its resident spend half of the year being farmers. The other half of the years, their jobs vary. From making noodles to bath towels. Some leave the village during the free time to work elsewhere, only to return just in time for harvest days.

I’m not a village girl, not at all. When I was little, my father struggled to send me back to his village every summer holiday. I used to hate the idea. But now, I can’t thank him enough for such a decision. The village, the people, the scent of rice paddy, the heat of summer, green fresh vegetables patch from my grandma’s garden, the beautiful taste of guava, the cold sweet black bean dessert… They are all part of me.

I return to the village from times to times, only to find that time has left its marks and changes are evident. Some people in the village still remembered me, as ‘K.’s daughter or Aunty Six’s granddaughter’. I don’t recall their names although I still recognise some, like Aunty Seven (Dì Bảy). ‘Seven’ is not her name. She is the 7th child of their family, so we call her so.

Aunty '7'

I have always wanted to write about the food of a Viet northern village. But where do I start? The food is so simple, and there is never a recipe. The philosophy is simplicity and local, fresh ingredients. Most villagers go to the wet market daily to gather their ingredients for the day – meat, tofu, fish, sauces and perhaps some vegetables they don’t grow. Vegetables are from the garden. And rice is from their own harvest.

Vietnamese gingery braised chicken wings

With such produces and simple preparation, I find that most of country (or northern Vietnamese) dishes often highlight one-two main flavours. Say, like this gingery braised chicken dish, the warmth of ginger and white peppers are dominant. We may use other spices, too, but only sparingly.

And of course, we love our fish sauce so it is one of the key ingredients in this dish. Choose your fish sauce wisely – it’s like olive oil. Good fish sauce has light ‘fishy’ aroma and sweet note. It adds such complexity of flavours to the chicken. I, however, find that not everyone is a fish sauce fanatic like us. In such case, feel free to substitute it with soy sauce.

Traditionally, chicken pieces are used to make the dish. I have opted for chicken wings and winglets since I’m too lazy to chop the whole chicken. Serve this with steamed rice and plenty of steamed vegetables. They go wonderfully together.

Vietnamese gingery braised chicken wings

Vietnamese gingery chicken wings (gà rang gừng)

The key to this dish is fish sauce. Adjust the level of seasoning based on the flavours of your sauce. I recommend Three Crab brand (more here). And go bold with white pepper! If you like, lemongrass can also be added.

500-600g chicken wings or winglets, cleaned
1 fresh chilli, sliced
5cm-piece of ginger, skinned and thinly sliced
1/8 (more or less)cup good quality fish sauce (or light soy sauce)
Lots of freshly ground white pepper
Salt (optional)
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

Marinade the chicken with fish sauce, ginger, chilli, ground pepper and salt for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium hear and add in the chicken. Stir occasionally, make sure that you won’t burn the meat.
As the chicken get just cooked and slightly brown, put in the sugar. You want the meat to be lightly brown while the dish is still saucy. Add in ½ cup of hot water. Continue to simmer slowly until the chicken is fully cooked and flavoursome (around 15 minutes).
Check seasoning. The final flavours should be gingery and peppery. Serve hot with rice and steamed vegetables.

A corner of a northern Vietnamese village

35 Responses to Vietnamese gingery chicken wings (gà rang gừng). Delicious Vietnam #5

  1. Indonesia Eats says:

    I can eat this lots :))

  2. Cindy says:

    Lovely to see a little of your heritage and its food. :-)

  3. penny aka jeroxie says:

    I think the best food in the world is from our hometown always. And never a recipe and always kept simple. it is just so comforting and always bring a smile. thanks for sharing.

  4. noobcook says:

    I heard that Vietnamese fish sauce is different from Thai fish sauce? I only tried Thai one so far. Love your chicken wings … very comfort food :)

  5. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    I'd love to visit Vietnam. Those are beautiful memories and that dish looks so scrumptious!

  6. Trissa says:

    Hmmm Anh – thanks for taking us "back home" – everything looks gorgeous – and reminds me of simpler times… even the dish you made – so simple but am sure it tastes delicious.

  7. Tangled Noodle says:

    Beautiful post! Your father's village sounds lovely, as does Aunty Seven. You make a great tribute to your family and background with this recipe – I could eat those chicken pieces by the dozen!

  8. tigerfish says:

    I so agree with the philosophy of simplicity, and fresh ingredients :)

  9. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    It's funny how we appreciate the things we hated our parents for making us do the older we get, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your memories and heritage with us.

  10. Soma says:

    The pictures, the climbers, the yellow flowers make me think of home. Is it a kind of squash? We used to have our terrace covered with similar creepers. they were bottlegourd.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictires of food and of the countryside. What kind of vines are in those pictures?

  12. Faith says:

    I really enjoyed reading about village life. It sounds like a humble, fulfilling way of life. The chicken looks delicious!

  13. Monet says:

    I agree, your father's village sounds really lovely…thank you for taking us there! And this recipe sounds delicious…I need to go and buy some fish sauce now!

  14. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    A great recipe Anh and a beautiful tribute! You had me at ginger…mmm!

  15. Anh says:

    Thanks everyone for the sweet comments :)

  16. Ms Baklover says:

    Thank you for sharing the memories of your dad's village so evocatively! I would love to live that close to the land and the turn of the seasons, although it must of course be hard at times. I will definitely be making this chicken dish – very simple yet I bet sooo delicious.

  17. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Anh! My last visit to Vietnam was 10 years ago but I hope to go back early next year; I would love to see how my family has grown up during that time. My dad was talking to his family back in Vietnam the other day and I can't begin to imagine what life would have been like if my parents didn't make the decision to flee Vietnam those many years ago.

  18. Jamie says:

    Living in France has allowed me the chance to eat Vietnamese food often and it is fabulous! I love this look into your village and your childhood. I too think that all of these experiences we were "forced" to live all come back to us as adults in the best way possible and enriching our lives. Beautiful dish with lovely flavors!

  19. Jo says:

    Love Vietnamese food and these chicken wings look so delicuous. Very unusual flavour as well.

  20. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    I love reading a bit about village life in the north. I have only traveled to Vietnam once, and fell in love with it. I hope to go back some day and travel more outside the cities.

  21. veron says:

    I love chicken wings! I'm always looking for recipes I could marinate them in.

  22. Maria says:

    I've never tried this dish, but I can imagine how tasty it would be!

  23. Maria says:

    I've never tried this dish, but I can imagine how tasty it would be!

  24. Deeba PAB says:

    Sigh… what a beautiful post Ahn, and so much connect in it. Was virtually walking beside you, taking it all in. Love the chicken recipe, and love the light flavours! So simple & delicious! Love the Aunty Six and 7 … sweet!

  25. bake in paris says:

    Wonderful recipe! And just admired your vertical composition shot. Just make me miss Vietnamese food already..

  26. Indie.Tea says:

    I have never seen the place my family originally comes from (India), so I think it is really wonderful that your father took you back to the place your family originated…

  27. Christine@Christine's Recipes says:

    A simple dish as such is the most favourite in our family's tradition too. Either ginger or fish sauce is always stocked up in my pantry.

  28. RV says:

    Chicken wings looks delicious with these simple yet strong flavors. Last pic reminds me of my home Anh.

  29. redmenace says:

    What a lovely post. Isn't it funny how we don't appreciate things when we are young? Is this going to be the same with my little girl? Oh dear! I'm so glad you now love this village. It looks so charming and the people sound absolutely wonderful. The chicken wings do too!

  30. Juliana says:

    The pictures are so pretty :-) And somehow, chicken and ginger is a great match! SO yummie!

  31. Annie says:

    My grandmother used to make a similar dish, with the addition of fresh coconut meat and its juice. Simple but delicious. Thanks for your recipe and memories, Anh!

  32. Jaden says:

    Great recipe idea – I'm making these this afternoon for a party. What I might do is bake the marinated wings instead of stove. Thanks so much!

  33. Angry Asian says:

    you weave paint such a pretty picture of vietnam! i really enjoyed the story you shared with this post. i am such a fan of ginger and how it can add such flavor to a dish.

  34. deb says:

    What a lovely story about your family! Thanks for the hint about the fish sauce. I am never quite sure what brand to choose.

  35. Mary Nguyen says:

    I am happy to read this article :)

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