Tri Ton District in An Giang offers more than the picturesque scenery that the Mekong Delta is renowned for.
As a locality neighboring Cambodia, its cuisine carries influences from across the border, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its grilled chicken with kaffir lime leaves.
This delicious dish makes for a perfect lunch amidst a tour of the province.
This grilled chicken is a traditional dish of the Khmer ethnic minority people in southern An Giang Province. Its simple looks belie a complicated cooking process. To get it right, the chicken must be homegrown and fed. And it needs to be cooked when the meat is fresh.
The chicken is marinated with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic sugar and salt.
As the marinating chicken absorbs the flavors, cooks prepare a pot with salt and kaffir lime leaves covering its bottom. The pot is placed on the stove, and the grilling commences.
Controlling the fire is crucial. It should be strong at first and tapered of gradually to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked. The aroma tells the chef and the impatient customer that the dish is done.
The cooked chicken, an eye-catching golden color, is served with vegetables, cucumber and different dipping sauces including homemade fish sauce, salt and pepper with lime juice, or chilli and salt with lime juice.
The perfect grilled chicken dish is soft, juicy and fatty. The fragrance and taste of this grilled chicken will linger in your nostrils and on your palate for a long time.
Hung, a resident of Tri Ton District, cannot count the number of times he’s visited the O Thum Lake area to enjoy this special dish.
"We should only eat the grilled chicken at O Thum Lake because the flavor is exclusive here. Nothing can compare to eating such a delicious dish in the ambience of high mountains and cool lakes."
Trying this dish for the first time, Yet, a tourist, was all praise. "The way they cook this is really special. The meat is both soft and sweet, and the kaffir leaf smells so good."
Many grilled chicken establishments have sprung up in the O Thum Lake area, and each has its own “secret” twist to attract customers.
"Sieu Ga Dot" is one of the first stalls in the area, with its chicken and sauce retaining the original flavor.
The owner will help you choose the size of the chicken, depending on how much you can eat. The chickens are fed in the garden, so they are not really big. One chicken usually can serve two people. Have it with steamed rice or fried rice. This meal for two people costs VND300,000 (US$12.93) including drinking water.
For a small district, Tri Ton has many attractive stops – the Golden Stream, the To mountain, the Ta Pung and Tuc Dup tourist areas, the Cam mountain, the Tra Su mangrove forest and the Tinh Bien market.