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Happy Thanksgiving! Posted by on Nov 24, 2021 in Culture, Events, Foods

Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

CHÚC MỪNG LỄ TẠ ƠN! (Happy Thanksgiving)

Time does fly fast when you are busy. Labor Day weekend was like yesterday to me. I turned around, and now lễ Tạ Ơn (Thanksgiving) is coming in just a few days! Following the American tradition of celebrating lễ Tạ Ơn, the Vietnamese community in the United States observes this important holiday as well, though with a twist in food preparation.

There is a reason to call ngày lễ Tạ Ơn (Thanksgiving day) a “ngày gà tây” (turkey day). You gotta have a tây nướng (roasted turkey) on ngày lễ Tạ Ơn. Some Vietnamese families, however, often substitute gà tây (turkey) with gà đi bộ (free range chicken). Others do use gà tây but prepare it in the Vietnamese way.

TURKEY MARINATING

In general, for any kind of meat, Vietnamese often like to marinate the meat before cooking. It is the same case for the tây’s cooking process. Instead of brining, they would marinate it for at least a couple hours. The marinating main ingredients always include:

  • Tiêu (pepper)

    Photo by Joakim Jardenberg on Unsplash

  • Hành tây (onion)
  • Tỏi (garlic)
  • A pinch of salt and sugar.

In addition, some recipes call for:

  • Rượu nấu đồ ăn (cooking wine)
  • Gừng (ginger)
  • Mật ong (honey)
  • Nước tương xì dầu (soy sauce)
  • Dầu hào (oyster sauce)

STUFFING

As for what to stuff in the tây’s cavity, there are a lot of variations.  For example, some would call for these ingredients:

  • Nấm mèo (black fungus)
  • Nấm đông cô/nấm hương (shitake mushrooms)
  • Hột sen (lotus seeds)
  • Lạp xưởng (Chinese sausage)
  • Tôm khô (dried shrimp)
  • Hoa kim châm (daylily flower)
  • Thảo dược (medicinal herbs)
  • Miến (Cellophane noodle)

GÀ TÂY CHAY (VEGETERIAN TURKEY)

For the vegetarians, they can celebrate “ngày gà tâywith tây chay (vegetarian turkey). It’s an art to make the imitation meat and the Vietnamese are really good at it. I call it an art because to taste properly one must make it somewhat similar as one would make meat by just using soybean products and different types of seasoning.

CHÁO GÀ TÂY (TURKEY PORRIDGE)

Thanksgiving Day is a day when family leisurely gets together for usually at least half a day. A couple hours after a heavy Thanksgiving meal, the Vietnamese prefer to have a light supper, and turkey porridge is the best choice to serve along with other leftovers from the heavy Thanksgiving meal.

To make cháo gà tây, utilize the turkey bones and/or carcass to make the broth. Add some jasmine rice and some shredded or cubes of leftover turkey meat. Besides pepper, sugar, and salt, I often add a couple thin slices of ginger to chase off the strong, gamey flavor of turkey. I also add chopped carrots and celery (optional). When serving, I add chopped green onions and cilantro. Oh, in my case, I would also add fish sauce!

I’m ready for lễ Tạ Ơn! I can’t wait to have some tây nướng with nhân nhồi (stuffing) and nước sốt thịt (gravy), sốt nam việt quất (cranberry sauce), khoai lang nướng (roasted sweet potatoes), and have dessert with bánh bí ngô (pumpkin pie). I know I will gain some pounds after the holidays, but only once a year, I can’t forgo all the yummy food on the Thanksgiving table!

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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