Not everyone is a fan of fish sauce. I personally, have no problem with it. Perhaps because I grew up with it. I remember we would put it in almost everything we cook. We would even choose to use fish sauce than salt to season. During mealtime, when the soup or stew needs more seasoning, we would reach for fish sauce, not salt. As if that is not enough, we would make dipping sauce out of fish sauce (sometimes with a bit of ‘calamansi’, our version of lemon). With that, I admit, there is no escaping the smell of fish sauce. You smell it with every single dip, but I loved it. 😉 Even now as I write, I can remember EXACTLY how it smelled back then. 🙂
My husband though, is the exact opposite. He avoids fish sauce like the plague. 😉 I told him it’s almost the same as anchovies (NOT!). But surprise, surprise; he likes this dish!
The coriander and the chilies work so well with the fish sauce that you don’t even realize there is fish sauce in there. I tried replacing it with salt, the result (in my opinion) lacked depth of flavor. You can try this yourself if you really cannot go anywhere near the fish sauce aisle in your Asian supermarket. 😉
I’ve also made this using chopped and butterflied chicken (whole chicken without backbone). I like the butterflied chicken more because I can put the marinade between the skin and the meat, and I feel that it makes the chicken more tasty and moist. I just chop the chicken before serving and then I put the rest of the juices from the roasting pan on the side. You can use that as dipping sauce, even add more chilies to it for more punch. 🙂 There is not a single whiff of fish sauce in that dipping sauce! 🙂
- 1.30 to 1.50 kg chicken
- 1 medium red onion sliced into quarters
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1 bunch coriander chopped roughly (set aside some leaves for garnish)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 pieces bird's eye chilies sliced thinly
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- Preheat oven to 230 degree Celsius.
- Mix everything for the marinade and set aside.
Wash the chicken and dry it completely. If you choose to butterfly it, remove the backbone and press it down in the middle to flatten the whole chicken.
Coat the chicken with the marinade. Make sure you use your fingers to insert the marinade under the skin of the chicken.
Put the sliced onion in a roasting pan and place the chicken on top of it, skin side up.
Roast for 30 minutes in 230 degrees and then adjust to 180 degrees. Roast for 20 more minutes. Do NOT forget to baste every 15 minutes.
Once the chicken gets dark and the sugar in the marinade has caramelized, remove it from the oven and let rest for (at least) 10 minutes.
Get the onions from the roasting pan and pour the remaining juices in a serving bowl.
Serve with the onions and coriander leaves. Pour the remaining juices on the chicken, if desired.
- Basting is the key to the caramelization on the skin of the chicken, so do NOT skip it every 15 minutes.
- Nowadays, there are quite a lot of fish sauce variations. I’ve seen lighter and less pungent ones, with no difference in taste. Give these a try if you are hesitant on using fish sauce for cooking.
- Adapted from 'Seven Free Recipes from Asian After Work' by Adam Liaw