Culture Culture

10/07/2019 - 07:00

Chicken grilled on a termitarium - both familiar and strange

My friend affirms that chicken grilled on a termitarium at his village is number one. One fails to feel the soul of the area if one does not have a chance to try this dish when visiting Huong Tho, a mountainous village at the water source of the Perfume River in the southeastern part of Huong Thuy Town, 12km away from Hue City.

Chicken grilled on a termitarium: strange and delicious

My friend wanted me to visit his village at weekends. It was the moon season. How interesting to sit in a hut late at night in the middle of a lotus pond, beholding the moon and drinking. 

 “Doesn’t beholding the moon and lotuses go well with drinking tea?” asked I. He smiled: “Enjoying grilled chicken while beholding the moon is right on trend now.” He affirms that chicken grilled on a termitarium at his village is number one. One fails to feel the soul of the area at the fork of Tuan if one does not have a chance to try this popular dish.

What fascinated me most was my friend himself. Though I know he is handy, I was still so surprised to see the big, weather-beaten hands of a man at nearly 40, who was good at working in the field, then skillfully preparing the chicken and making the fire.

The typical thing about this strange but delicious dish is the termitarium. My friend fetched it from the hill up there where there were many acacias.

For a guy who is used to hiking in the wood, finding a termitarium is as easy as pie. After ten minutes, I saw him rolling back a termitarium, about half a meter tall with the base as big as a conical hat.

The termitarium must be some years old because the earth had been hardened and as rough as laterite rock. The top of the termitarium was indented, large enough for my friend to put in some dried leaves to make the fire.

When the leaves burnt out, the termitarium caught fire, looking like a charcoal stove. He put a grill on the top, then put the chicken on it. Now and then, he turned the chicken over.

In order to have a good dish, it is necessary to find the right chicken. Vietnamese chicken, after being grilled, gives sweet, a little bit tough and still soft flesh. Garden chicken is sweet but too soft; fighting chicken, on the other hand, too tough.

While I was grilling the chicken as assigned, my friend was preparing the dipping salt. The dish is delicious thanks to not only its unique taste but also how the dipping salt is made.

According to my friend, making dipping salt for grilled chicken is super easy. Mix together around ten sour-soup creepers with some minced lemongrass, a couple of green chillies, some unrefined salt and a teaspoon of sugar; then beat the ingredients well to finish. The dipping salt is the combination of the aroma of lemongrass, the hot taste of chilli, the sour taste of sour-soup creepers and the slightly salty taste thanks to the sugar added.

It was so eye-pleasing to see the yellow brown chicken placed on the lotus leaf with dipping salt in a pink lotus petal. Chicken grilled on a termitarium had a strange taste. It was the combination of the sweet taste of chicken and the smoky smell from the burnt termitarium. Pick up a piece of brown grilled chicken, dip it in the dipping salt, then put it into your mouth; close your eyes to enjoy the various tastes of the dish.