Ms Daen’s Vietnamese/Lao ginger chicken

Ms Daen’s Vietnamese/Lao ginger chicken

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

I’d heard of a family in Vientiane who migrated from Vietnam in the early 1950s and had a restaurant serving the best bowl of ‘pho’ in town, so naturally I had to check it out. I arrived early for breakfast and met the owner–chef, Ms Daen. We shared an instant bond. Only later did I learn we were both born in the same refugee camp in Thailand, and even have the same Thai name: Daen. Her pho was delicious, but it was not a traditional Vietnamese-style pho. Lao cuisine has a strong Vietnamese in…fluence, as many Viet families migrated to Laos during the French occupation and Vietnam War, but the Vietnamese food has changed to accommodate the local palate. This is Ms Daen’s recipe, which she says is a great example of that Vietnamese in…fluence: a Lao version of the Vietnamese ginger chicken.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons glutinous rice, soaked in water for 2 hours
300g boneless, skinless chicken breast, šfinely sliced
1 handful thai basil leaves
1 handful lemon basil leaves
2 red chillies, sliced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
pinch caster sugar
coriander sprigs, to garnish
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
2 tablespoons chicken stock
sticky rice, to serve, (see note)


  1. Strain the soaking rice and place in a mortar. Pound with a pestle for 4 minutes, or until crushed. Stir in the chicken stock and set aside.
  2. Add the vegetable oil to a hot wok. Add the garlic and ginger, then sauté over medium–high heat until fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes over high heat. Now add all the basil and chilli.
  4. Strain the stock mixture from the mortar, discarding the rice. Add to the chicken mixture and stir until combined. Now add the oyster sauce, sugar and a pinch of sea salt and stir-fry for a further minute.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with coriander and serve with sticky rice.


  • To make the sticky rice, drain and rinse the soaked rice in cold water three times. Pour water into the bottom of your steamer and line the steaming section with muslin. Place the rinsed rice on the cloth, cover with the lid and set on the stovetop over high heat. Steam for 15… minutes, then †flip the rice over. Cook for another 5–15 …minutes, or until the rice becomes translucent; take a small bite to check it is soft and chewy. (Sticky rice generally takes about 20–30 minutes of steaming all up.)
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