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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

If you've ever been to a Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant, chances are you tried the salt and pepper chicken and fell in love with it. Who wouldn't? It's crunchy fried chicken coated in a seemingly boring yet flavorful salt and pepper mixture. 

 Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

The star ingredient is obviously the salt. It's not any ordinary salt. The salt used in this recipe is toasted until golden brown. It's then sprinkled onto the fried chicken at the very end of the cooking process. This method of toasting salt is a Chinese cooking secret that brings out the salt hidden flavor. For the recipe below, I further enhanced the flavor by using sea salt instead of boring table salt. Why use mediocre salt when you can use the God of all salts?

 Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

The other star ingredient but more infamously known, is MSG. What is MSG? It stands for Monosodium Glutamate. It's a flavor enhancer when combined with something savory. It provides that savory flavor known as umami, a taste we previously didn't know existed. MSG occurs abundantly in nature yet we condemn it in Chinese/Vietnamese cooking. We should take advantage of this culinary scientific discovery and use it in our cooking.

If you want to replicate a restaurant dish and choose not to include the MSG that is specified in the recipe, yet complain that it doesn't taste the same, then I will look for you ... I will find you and ... I will  ̶k̶i̶l̶l̶ kick you.

Enjoy the recipe below =)

 Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Fried Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

Vietnamese Fried Salt & Pepper Chicken (Ga Rang Muoi)

Serves 5

Ingredients

    Chicken Marinade

  • 4 lbs bone-in chicken (I like using wings and drumettes)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons MSG
  • 1/2 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspooon ground black pepper

  • Salt & Pepper Mixture

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Frying

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • 4 stalks scallions (slice into 1-inch segments)
  • 4 cloves garlic (slice thin)
  • 1 large shallot (slice thin)
  • 4 red chili peppers (optional, slice thin)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken with sea salt, MSG, 5 spice powder and black pepper for at least 30 minutes.
  2. To make the salt and pepper mixture, heat up a small frying pan (no oil need) and add salt. On low heat, pan fry the salt for 10 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool. Once completely cooled, add sugar and black pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Heat up vegetable oil to 350°F, and deep fry the chicken in batches (about 10 minutes per batch). Drain well on a wired rack.
  4. Heat up a large wok (no oil needed), add scallions, garlic, shallot and chili peppers. Add fried chicken and give it quick toss with the aromatics. Sprinkle salt and pepper mixture and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Add cooking wine along the edges of the wok. Toss the chicken one last time. Serve immediately.

Miso Ramen Recipe

In early 2000s, I told my husband that ramen would be the next big thing, and that I should start a ramen shop. Now with the abundance of successful ramen shops all around me, I just mope over what could have been.

 Miso Ramen with Soft Boiled Egg, Shitake Mushrooms, Buttered Corn, BBQ Pork, Pork Neck Bones, Scallions and Black Pepper

Miso Ramen with Soft Boiled Egg, Shitake Mushrooms, Buttered Corn, BBQ Pork, Pork Neck Bones, Scallions and Black Pepper

My husband loves ramen so when we get a chance to go to San Francisco, we head to the Westfield mall food court and have lunch at Ajisen Ramen. Their spicy miso ramen is one of my favorites. Whenever I have their ramen, I try really hard to perfect the ramen and broth ratio for each bite so that no liquid-gold-miso-broth would ever be left behind.

 My Take on Miso Ramen

My Take on Miso Ramen

Unfortunately, San Francisco is quite a ways out. If we don't head to San Francisco, we get no ramen and I'm not happy with that. I figured it was about time to make my own ramen. I googled a bunch of recipes beforehand, took a few notes from different recipes and combined them into a recipe that I thought would be good. Since it was my very first attempt at anything, I was certain that my family would run for the door. Surprisingly, that wasn't the case. The miso broth came out perfectly and the bowl of ramen with all the fixings looked absolutely grogeous! For my very first time, I had to high-five myself.

 Miso Ramen with BBQ Pork

Miso Ramen with BBQ Pork

What made the broth so good was 1, the fat from the pork stock and 2, the butter! Yes, there was butter in this ramen dish. I have never added butter to a noodle or ramen dish before. But that layer of pork fat and butter (I can never go Vegan!) worked so well together with the miso flavor. 

The broth for my miso ramen was made of pork neck bones. I see that other people use ground pork but I really love having a piece of pork neck bone in my bowl of ramen. The meat is moist and flavorful from soaking up the spices and seasoning in the broth.

 Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen

The pork stock was slowly simmered with garlic, ginger, scallions, Shitake mushrooms, and seasoned with sake (or cooking wine), spicy fermented bean paste, miso paste, soy sauce, sugar, and chicken stock powder. Yes, I know, chicken stock powder is cheating but it's makes the pork stock so much better and full of umami flavor so sue me.

For the topping, I added a soft boiled egg, sweet corn sauteed with a generous amount butter (flavor!), sliced barbecue pork, sliced shitake mushroom (from the stock), a piece of pork neck bone (also from the stock), and and a sprinkle of black pepper.

For the noodles, I simply used store-bought fresh Japanese ramen. Ain't nobody got time for that!

 Miso Ramen Recipe

Miso Ramen Recipe

 Miso Ramen with all the fixings!

Miso Ramen with all the fixings!

Japanese Miso Ramen Recipe

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 package fresh Japanese ramen noodles (2 lbs)
  • 2 lbs pork neck bones plus 1 tablespoon salt for cleaning
  • 5 liters water for stock
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 6 whole scallions
  • 10 whole Shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sake or Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1/3 cup miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili bean sauce (Toban Djan)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon pork or chicken stock powder

  • Ramen Toppings

  • 5 soft boiled eggs
  • Small sheets of roasted seaweed (nori)
  • 3 green onions (slice thinly)
  • Shitake mushrooms from stock (slice thinly)
  • White or black pepper
  • BBQ pork (Xa Xiu)
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels sauteed or microwaved with 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Roasted nori (seaweed)

Instructions

  1. Clean the pork bones thoroughly before cooking: In a large stock pot, add pork bones and 1 tablespoon salt. Fill it up with water and heat on high. Wait for the esyrt to come to a rolling boil then cook for about 5 minutes. Place a colander in the sink and drain the bones into the colander. Rinse the bones clean with cold water.
  2. Clean the stock pot and return to stove. Add sesame oil and heat on medium high heat. Then add minced garlic, ginger and shallots. Saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. To the pot, add cleaned pork bones, water (5 liters), scallions, and Shitake mushrooms. Simmer on medium low heat for about one and a half hours.
  4. Remove all solids from stock (bones, shitake mushrooms, scallions, etc). Don't waste the bones or shitake mushrooms! Reserve them for ramen toppings.
  5. Season stock with sugar, sake/cooking wine, miso paste, chili bean sauce, soy sauce and pork/chicken stock powder.
  6. Prepare the noodles per package instructions.
  7. When ready to serve, add noodles to bowl, add soup, and toppings.