What I’d like to do in this and the next posting, is to show you how to make a meal using a whole chicken. A whole chicken is less expensive than pre-cut chicken and also allows you to have both dark and white meat to cater to different taste. It’s really doesn’t take that much more time to cut up a chicken. You will use all the parts of the chicken to make the Napa Cabbage Soup (Part 1) and Vietnamese Fried Chicken (Part 2).
This is how I usually start prepping the chicken. Carve off the chicken wings and sever the drum part off the rest of the wing. Next, carve off the thigh quarters and separate the drumstick from thigh. Now that you have carved off the appendages of the chicken, it’s time to remove the bony back part of the chicken. Take your knife or poultry shears and cut down the length of the back bone of the chicken – about an inch either side of the back bone. Cut this back bone portion in half. Next, divide the remaining chicken into two breasts. I like to cut each breast in half so that it will be about the same size as the thigh, thus, taking the same amount of cooking time. Divide the chicken into two batches:
For soup: chicken wing parts (except drum), back bones, one thigh
For main dishes: chicken wing drum, drumstick, breast cuts, thigh
Part 1. The soup comes together quite quickly with Napa Cabbage. If you have seen my tomato and chicken soup or zucchini recipe, you will begin to see the basic elements of Vietnamese soups. Here, instead of the chicken breast in the other recipe, I’ve used the bony, less meaty parts of the chicken to create the stock for this soup. Note that the napa cabbage is quite thin and tender and doesn’t require much cooking. My advice is to make the stock first and about 5 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the sliced chicken and the napa cabbage.
Napa Cabbage Soup (Part 1)
- 8 cups of water
- Bony parts of chicken (wing parts -except drum, back bones)
- 1 chicken thigh – meat removed from bone and sliced
- 1 whole napa cabbage sliced into 1 inch rings
- 8oz of sliced mushrooms (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tbsp salt
- 5 tbsp fish sauce
- black pepper to taste
- 1 sprig of chopped green onion for garnish
- Sprigs of fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
1. Add salt to water in a medium size pan, bring to boil
2. Place bone into boiling water to make stock. Once it returns to a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium.
3. Add chopped onion to chicken stock.
4. Add crushed black pepper, fish sauce to stock.
5. Cover and simmer, about 20 minutes or more. The more time you have, the richer the stock.
6. Remove bones and scum from soup.
7. Five minutes before serving, add sliced chicken meat, mushrooms and napa cabbage to boiling stock. Place lid on top of pan and cook for 4-5 minutes over medium high heat, until cabbage wilts.
8. Garnish soup with chopped green onions and/or cilantro.
9. Ladle soup over a bowl of warm jasmine rice.