Gà Roti is one of my favorite ways to eat chicken. It's juicy and rich with a savory, slightly sweet sauce full of garlic flavor. While the Roti in Gà Roti stands for rotisserie, this chicken dish is usually not roasted at all. Instead, the chicken is pan fried until the skin is super crispy. Afterwards, the chicken is simmered in coconut water until it's cooked. The end result is moist, succulent chicken with a subtley sweet glaze. There are very few ingredients used (and you can find all of them in a traditional western grocery store), which makes this a GREAT weeknight meal!
I always use chicken thighs to make gà roti, but you can also use chicken leg quarters for a more appetizing look. I've never tried this with chicken breast, which takes a bit longer to cook. I wouldn't recommend using a cut that is boneless or skinless.
This dish also tastes great with sticky rice. Let your chicken rest after cooking and shred it up. Mix cooked sticky rice with the leftover sauce/chicken drippings and then serve with the shredded chicken. This dish is called Xôi Gà! You can also use this chicken as a topping for Xôi Mặn, which I already have a recipe for.
Get the recipe for Xôi Mặn (Vietnamese Savory Sticky Rice) here!
Vietnamese roasted chicken (gà roti): Step-by-step instructions
Marinate the chicken thighs with fish sauce, ground black pepper, garlic and salt. Let these sit for at least 30 minutes. You can do this ahead of time the night before and keep it in the fridge. Let the chicken come to room temperature again before cooking if you do.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat and cook the chicken thighs skin side down for 10-15 minutes until the skin is golden brown and crispy. Resist the urge to flip the chicken over during this time! Let them do their thing in the pan. Brush off some of the minced garlic from the skin before placing in the pan so that it does not burn.
Flip the chicken thighs over and move them to the edges of the pan. Put a spoonful of sugar in the middle of the pan and swirl it around until it caramelizes to a deep brown. The longer you let it caramelize, the deeper and nuttier the flavor will be and the more brown the chicken will be.
Once the sugar has caramelized to your liking, pour in the coconut water. Let the coconut water simmer until it has completely reduced to a thin glaze.
Gà Roti (Vietnamese Roasted Chicken)
- 5 skin on, bone in chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ cup coconut water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pat chicken thighs dry and season with fish sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- Brush garlic pieces off of the skin side of the chicken. In a large heavy bottomed skillet, cook the chicken skin side down on medium high heat until the skin is golden and crispy, about 10-15 minutes. Try not to touch the chicken too often while it's cooking.
- Flip the chicken over and move the pieces to the edges of the skillet. In the middle of the skillet, add the granulated sugar and allow sugar to caramelize to a deep golden brown.
- Add coconut water and bring to simmer. Continue simmering until almost all of the coconut water has reduced to a thin glaze and the chicken is fully cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Add more coconut water as needed if the skillet gets too dry. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon at the end.
- Serve with rice and fresh vegetables, like cucumber and tomato.
Can the coconut water be replaced? Unfortunately wifes allergic to coconut.
The coconut gives this chicken it's subtly sweet, fresh flavor. You can try some water and honey or sugar, but the flavor wouldn't be exactly the same.
Thanks for the recipe. Was trying to find it on the internet but kept coming up with other versions, not what I was looking for. Hoping this comes out right because I miss my mom's cooking!
I hope that this version is the one you're looking for! It's very different from others I've seen online for ga roti.
There was a lot of fat once i flipped the chicken, are you meant to drain this liquid and then add the granulated sugar?
Hi Vivian! The amount of fat will depend on the thighs that you buy. Sometimes I get lean ones and sometimes I get really fatty ones. Feel free to drain the fat, or even trim it off the thighs before searing if there is too much.
Brilliant stuff, and so simple to make...keeps me remembering my times in Vietnam with my good Vietnamese friends and oh to return...
Thanks for the review Ray! So glad you liked this recipe. I also love how simple yet flavorful it is.