Tet Recipe: Vietnamese BBQ Chicken

Tet Recipe:
BBQ Chicken

Tet is a three-day festival celebrating the Vietnamese New Year. The amazing food is just a small part of the Tet festival, which is the biggest cultural event on the Vietnamese calendar. I was lucky enough to go to Vietnam last year and got to sample some awesome Vietnamese BBQ. The flavours were amazing. It was this culinary experience that inspired this recipe: Vietnamese BBQ Chicken with Honey & Ginger. Tet 2016 is coming up soon, so it’s time to get your Tet on!

To begin your Vietnamese BBQ marinade, you need to slice up a medium onion, a thumb of ginger and 4 cloves of garlic. In a saucepan, heat 3 TBS of Canola oil and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir through, coating thoroughly in the oil and cook until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Once this is done add ½ cup honey, ½ cup water, 1 tsp pink Himalayan rock salt, 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper, 2 TBS fish sauce and 1 tsp red chili flakes. Stir through. Heat the marinade gently so as to combine the honey with the other ingredients but be careful not to boil it: we’re making a marinade, not caramel!

Once this is done, you need to let it cool. While this is happening, it’s time to spatchcock 2 chickens. This is a very easy process.

 Place each spatchcocked chicken in the largest zip lock bag you can find (I use 27cm x 33cm bags) or large plastic containers. Pour a third of your marinade into each bag, seal, and jostle your chicken around ensuring the marinade coats your bird inside and out. Be gentle though: you don’t want to pierce the plastic bag. Put your zippie in a tray to be safe and put it in the fridge for 2 to 24 hours.

Those are slices of ginger, not bamboo...
Ever seen Dexter???
Weber + Chicken = Perfect!

With your BBQ set up for indirect cooking (you can also cook this chicken on a gas grill), put your chicken in place and set your timer for an hour, at 225F (107C). Be sure to add some smoke. If you’re cooking on coals use chunks and if you’re cooking on gas, then use chips and a smoker box. We’re going to be using a reverse sear on this Vietnamese chicken: it’s going to be awesome!

At the one hour mark, turn your chicken 180 degrees to ensure even cooking. It’ll already be looking good, but you don’t really don’t want to be eating it yet!

Now at the two hour mark your chicken will be a deep brown and its internal temperature will be between 150F and 160F. This is the time when you put the chicken directly over the coals. The way I set my Weber up, I had to put the chicken over the coals a half at a time on each side, one minute each, totalling four minutes. I then put the chicken back on the indirect side and basted it with the remaining marinade, replacing the lid and giving it another 15 minutes.

Don’t forget about the rice. You’ll need to put 4 cups of rice and 6 cups of water in a large saucepan with the lid on. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to the minimum setting and set a timer for 14 minutes. When the time’s up, remove the saucepan from the heat and your rice is ready!

Looks good, but not ready yet...
Almost... patience... patience...
Hello Sailor!

The end result is a sweet, savoury, crispy bird with the perfect amount of char and an aroma that will take you all the way to the beaches of Hoi An. To serve, cut the chicken into large portions and serve with plain rice topped with chopped spring onions. Put your party pants on and enjoy it with your friends and family!

What’s your favourite holiday celebration? Let me know in the comments below?



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8 thoughts on “Tet Recipe: Vietnamese BBQ Chicken

  1. I love the sound and look of your Vietnamese BBQ Chicken . Would love to read more of your ideas by way of your newsletters

  2. This is great recipe!
    I want to smoke x6 chickens for a bbq I’m having in a basic two tiered vertical smoker. How long would you suggest cooking time?

    1. Hi Karen,

      If your smoker is running at 250F, your chickens should take about 4 hours. That’s if you’re cooking them whole. If you spatchcock them like I did in this recipe, they’ll be quicker.

      If you have the time, try brining the chickens before cooking them – they’ll be heaps juicier!


      1. Hey Ben,

        Thanks for getting back to me! I think I’ll spatchcock them as you did, would you suggest 3 hours if so? I have a water bowl in my smoker so is it still ok to brine?


        1. Hi Karen,

          Three hours will probably be a bit too much. Check the internal temp of the meat in either the breast of the thigh (or both!) and then leave the chicken in there for an appropriate period of time after that. After 90 minutes, I usually check every 30 – 45 minutes or so depending on how much more temp it needs to gain.

          There is no problem with both brining and using a water bowl. Using a water might make the skin on your chicken a bit chewy though so you might want to consider that too.


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