There was a local Vietnamese restaurant that introduced me to this Asian flavored roast chicken served with the standard dipping sauce made with lime juice and fish sauce. The salty, yet tangy flavor of the sauce together with the chile flavors was the ultimate umami treat. Here is my version of this dish for you to try at home.
For Roast Chicken:
3-½ Pound whole roasting chicken
2 cloves garlic minced
½ small onion minced
2 T Chinese Rice Wine or dry sherry
2 T Light Soy Sauce
2 T Dark soy sauce ( if you can’t find light soy sauce use 4T dark)
2 T sugar
1 ½ t five-spice powder
2 T sesame oil
Soft lettuce leaves like Boston lettuce
Fresh mint leaves
For Dipping Sauce:
1 clove garlic
4 T fish sauce
4 T lime juice
3 T sugar
3-4 hot green chilies, sliced thinly
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl add your marinade ingredients. Combine the chopped garlic, onion, rice wine, two soy sauces, sugar, and five-spice powder in the bowl. In a larger bowl, place your roast chicken. Pour marinade over the chicken, and rub it in on all sides, also placing some inside the cavity. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, turning the chicken several times to let all sides soak.
Prepare the dipping sauce by placing crushed garlic in a bowl and topping with fish sauce, fresh lime juice, sugar, and hot chilies. The sauce should taste tangy and salty at the same time.
Place the marinated chicken on a roasting rack in a roast pan, reserving the marinade for basting. Place the chicken breast-side down in the roasting rack and baste the back of the chicken with marinade. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over the breast side up and baste the breast. Roast for 15 minutes. After the breast has roasted for 15 minutes at high temperature, baste again, and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes, brushing with marinade a few times during the process. After 45 minutes, brush sesame oil over the breast, and let roast a few more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a cutting board for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to carve. Arrange the chicken on a platter, and pour some of the dipping sauce over it.
To serve, take a lettuce leaf and place chicken and fresh mint inside. Sprinkle sauce over the chicken and roll the chicken in the lettuce. You can also eat chicken alone served with lettuce on the side.