Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken (Ga Roti) features juicy chicken in a savory sauce with a hint of sweetness. Serve it with rice for a filling dinner.
What is Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken (Ga Roti)?
Ga Roti (or Gà Rô ti) is a popular dish in Saigon. It’s actually not straightforward to translate the name of this dish into English. The common translations I come across are Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken or Vietnamese Roasted Chicken. And “rô ti” does sound like a short version for “rotisserie”.
However, in this Southern Vietnamese dish, the chicken isn’t really roasted. Instead, chicken drumsticks (or thighs, legs) are often fried briefly until golden. After that, they are simmered in coconut juice until tender while still juicy. The result is flavorful chicken with a sweet-savory rich sauce.
Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, and they are:
- 1.75 lbs chicken drumsticks
- garlic, shallot, salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- fresh juice of one coconut (about 1 to 1 1/4 cups)
You can also use chicken thighs or even whole chicken legs. In case you don’t have coconut juice, it’s fine to use water (or chicken stock) with some extra honey as a substitution.
If you have time, marinate the chicken for several hours for tastier results. If that’s not possible, you can marinate the chicken at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
How to Make Ga Roti
As previously mentioned, the chicken isn’t actually roasted. I attribute that to the lack of an oven in a majority of home kitchens in Vietnam, and dishes like lemongrass roast chicken used to belong on restaurant menus only.
First step: frying or broiling the chicken
Viet home cooks often fry the chicken briefly to get a golden color. Since the marinade contains a small amount of honey, watch closely to avoid burning the chicken skin. I also recommend using a deep pan since you can get splashing while frying.
Frying chicken often means a lot of oil splashing and cooking odor in the house, which we may not like. Another way to do this is broiling the drumsticks in the oven until golden. Again, watch closely and turn often for even colors and avoid burning.
The broiling route takes a few more minutes than frying, but the results are the same. In the photo below, the three drumsticks on the left were broiled and the other ones were fried. They look very much similar right :).
Second step: simmering the chicken in coconut juice
In order for these Vietnamese roasted chicken to turn out delicious, I think the following tips are important:
- don’t simmer the chicken in too much liquid
- use moderate heat and adjust as needed to control simmering time
What we want to avoid here is simmering the chicken for too long, which will dry out the meat. I once made that mistake, and the drumsticks shrank and turned out dry. I definitely don’t want to make that mistake again :).
In general, the liquid should come halfway up the meat. Then maintain a rolling simmer and adjust to a more gentle simmer towards the end. Total simmering time is around 20 minutes, until the sauce is thickened to lightly coat the chicken.
Detailed instructions for cooking Ga Roti are in the recipe card below. Here are some more chicken recipes you may want to try:
- 15-minute Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs
- Vietnamese Chicken Rice (Com Ga Hoi An)
- Vietnamese Chicken Pho Noodle Soup
- Vietnamese Fish Sauce Chicken Wings
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Vietnamese Rotisserie Chicken (Ga Roti)
- Add chicken drumsticks to a mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine salt, five-spice powder, soy sauce and honey. Pour the marinade over the chicken, add crushed garlic and crushed shallot. Mix well and marinate for several hours in the refrigerator or 20-30 minutes at room temperature if short on time.
- Place a deep pan over medium heat and heat a generous amount of oil. Shake off the aromatics from the drumsticks (reserve both the aromatics and the marinade), then briefly fry them in a single layer until all sides are golden. Work in batch if needed. Watch closely to avoid burning the chicken skin.
- Alternatively, after shaking off the aromatics, broil the chiken on high in the oven until all sides are golden. Watch closely and turn frequently for even colors and avoid burning.
- Remove frying oil and wipe the pan clean. Then pour the reserved marinade with the aromatics into the pan, and add the chicken. Add coconut juice so that the liquid come halfway up the meat.
- Bring to a boil, then lower to medium heat to maintain a rolling simmer, skim off any foams. Flip the chicken once or twice. You may need to lower the heat slightly towards the end. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce is thickened to lightly coat the chicken. Near the end, you can taste the meat and the sauce and add more salt, soy sauce or honey to taste.
- Transfer the chicken to serving plates along with the sauce. Serve hot.