OK, so we already know that chicken is a favorite among those looking for bang for their grocery bucks. It is a very versatile food as well. You got your fried chicken, roasted chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken soup, bar-b-cue chicken and chicken and dumplings. You can turn south of the US border and find other uses. Chicken fajitas, chicken enchiladas, chicken flautas and a dozen other things called pollo con something or another.
We like chicken so much we actually name other kinds of meat after it. Chicken of the Sea and chicken fried steak come to mind. Heck, we even invoke the sacred chicken when we are eating something that a lot of people normally don’t eat.
“How’s those frog legs?”
“Not bad!” comes the answer. “They taste like chicken.”
It would seem like all this attention and notoriety might place chicken in an exalted place in human culinary experience, but what it really does is create boredom. Personally, I can’t remember the last time the words, “Oh boy! Chicken!” came out of my mouth. Probably because it never happened.
Well, with one exception.
Today I am going to introduce you to Vietnamese style boom-boom chicken. Now, normally with Vietnamese food the French would get some kind of mention because of their influence on Vietnamese cuisine. It was the French, after all, who came to Indochina to fight a war. They might have even won if the combatants were all sauciers and sous chefs.
Boom-boom chicken, I think, is pure Vietnamese cooking, but I can’t swear to the accuracy. I am just going by the fact that the dish does not require ridiculous amounts of butter and cream. In fact, it does not require any of either. What it does require is being brined in advance, and careful attention to the marinade, which is a bit of magic all on its own. The result of this is that you will eat chicken so good that it would make you lick your fingers in front of the Queen.
First the brine.
Just as a point of information, brining poultry is a really outstanding way to ensure you won’t be eating chicken jerky by the time it is done cooking. It makes the meat moist, plump and helps it maintain a very pleasant texture. Normally, I would suggest brining for 12 hours. Because we are going to marinade this chicken after it is partially brined we are cutting the brining time in half to 6 hours.
To start with, place one gallon of warm water in a large bowl (large enough to easily hold a gallon of water and a whole chicken cut into parts. To the warm water add 3/4 cup kosher salt and I cup brown sugar. Optionally, you can add any number of other spices and ingredients, from peppers to honey to rosemary to cumin and others. This time, however, I recommend you stick with the salt and sugar only. We are going to add plenty of seasoning for the chicken in the marinade.
Stir the salt and brown sugar into the water till it completely dissolves, then allow the water to return to room temperature. It’s ok to cheat by throwing a few ice cubes into the mix.
Once the brining solution is cooled, drop in the chicken, cover and place in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
And now for a break to put you in the mood for boom-boom chicken.
Now comes the fun part; the boom-boom chicken marinade that will blow the water out of your rice paddy. The ingredients are as follows:
1 cup soy sauce (low sodium is actually full of sodium)
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion (white, Spanish onion)
4-6 garlic cloves, well mashed (with or without the garlic’s consent)
1/2 teaspoon each powdered cinnamon, garlic, and cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Make this marinade in advance, while your boom-boom is brining and make sure it is mixed thoroughly. When the time comes, remove the chicken from the brining solution, rinse off with cold water to remove excess salt, and then put the chicken in a large, freezer style zip lock bag. Pour marinade in the bag with the boom-boom and make sure it coats everything. Place in fridge for one hour, coming back to shake the bag and recoat the chicken about every 15 minutes.
There are two ways of cooking the chicken. You can place the chicken on a cookie sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven for an hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. That method sucks, though. This recipe is made for a grill. Charcoal or gas does not matter. Flames do matter, so does smoke, and you don’t get either inside most kitchens unless you have bigger problems than boom-boom chicken. This is definitely a job for the porch or patio.
Once your grill is hot, place your chicken skin side down and let it cook till the skin is getting crispy and has grill marks. Then turn it over, lower heat, cover and allow to finish cooking. If you are lucky your grill will have an upper rack where the chicken can sit away from the direct flame and finish.
If you are experienced enough you can tell if chicken is done just by looking at the color. Or you can cut into a piece to test it for doneness, but this is not the preferred method. Cutting the chicken (or any meat) before it has come off the grill and had a chance to rest will cause the juices to flow out and dry out the meat.
The best way is to use a meat thermometer. They are inexpensive. Simply push the thermometer’s pointed end into a deep piece of meat like a breast or a thigh. When the internal temperature is 165, take the boom-boom off the grill, cover with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Follow all these steps properly and you will have chicken that might just change your mind about chicken.
This chicken is delicious, easy to make and it will love you long time.