This year we wanted a non-traditional but somewhat traditional Thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant but it started going down the path of doing a Vietnamese style roast turkey. I’ve never heard of this and still had a hard time wrapping my head around it. After many internet searches, I came across a recipe by Diep Tran from the Good Girl Dinette.
Here’s the recipe:
Vietnamese-Style Turkey (for a 15- /20-lb turkey)
2 tablespoons ground coriander (fresh ground)
4 tablespoons ginger (about 2 inches of ginger), smashed
7 cloves garlic
1 medium white onion (about 8 oz)
¼ cup sugar
1 bunch green onions (cut into 2-in lengths)
¼ cup oil
½ cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons black pepper
Grind cloves into a powder.
Over medium heat, fry cloves, ground coriander, and ginger in a little bit of oil. Fry until coriander powder starts to darken and the ginger gets a bit caramelized.
Add garlic and white onion and fry until fragrant.
Transfer to food processor, add sugar and green onions, then process until ginger is finely ground.
Remove mixture from food processor and add fish sauce and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Rub mixture all over the outside and inside of the turkey, especially inside the cavity. Let turkey marinate for at least 2 days, up to 4 days.
On the day of cooking, rub the inside of a paper bag with butter, put the turkey in the bag, fold and close the bag, and put it into a roasting pan.
Roast at 375 degrees for 3-4 hours (start checking the turkey’s temperature 2 hours into roasting).
The prep didn’t take too long and the fragrance was like I was in the kitchen of my favorite pho shop. In fact, I smelled like a Banh Mi until Thanksgiving day. I’m not complaining about that but it did make me hungry until then. Oh, the bird, I went with Mary’s Free-Range Turkey. I don’t think many of the guests had the palette to taste the difference but I’ll save that for another post. For me, I just felt better knowing I ate a free-range bird without additional hormones or antibiotics.
So how did it come out? From the reviews on Thanksgiving day, I heard that the skin was great and then the rest of the turkey tasted just like any other turkey on Thanksgiving day. That made sense. I marinated the bird for 3 days. I think the next step would have been to inject all the meat with the rub mixture. Judging from the awesome fragrance while prepping, I was expecting a more pungent bird.
If I was to do this recipe again, I would inject the meat with the rub mixture, double up on the ingredients, and marinade it for 4-5 days.
All was not a loss. People just want turkey but I was not satisfied. I was going to reach the goal of having a Vietnamese style turkey. The party ended and I was left with one of my favorite parts of the turkey…the carcass.
After chopping the carcass into smaller parts, I put it in a pot of water and started the slow broth making process. There was a lot of remnant from the rub mixture in the cavity so I saved some time. I normally chop more onions, carrots, and celery when making stock but I didn’t have to do that this round.
8 hours later, I was left with a great tasting turkey broth. Well, for some reason, the broth still didn’t have heavy Vietnamese flavors. It was great turkey broth on its own. I started to add a little more ginger slices and fish sauce until it reached the flavor profile I wanted…I was aiming for pho. Maybe I should have stated that from the beginning.
5 more hours later, the broth had a strong turkey flavor and there was even the gelatinous feel from the dissolved cartilage. So what else did I put in it? I hit the store to get my rice noodles, chicken/mushroom balls, sliced rib-eye (because I knew someone would eat it), lemon, and basil. For some reason, stores don’t carry bean sprouts anymore so I was missing that aspect.
Assembly was a breeze, noodles, leftover turkey, chicken meatballs, basil, and broth. I was finally satisfied with how this dish turned out. The soup was softer tasting than the harsh beef broth. People were able to taste the turkey in the broth.
Turkey Pho Recipe
1 cup rough cup carrots
1 cup rough cup onions
1 cup rough cup celery
1 inch smashed ginger
1 cup fish sauce
Boil the turkey carcass and extra bones in a big pot full of water. Add onions, carrots, celery, fish sauce, and ginger. After 15 minutes of high boiling, turn down to a simmer for 8 hours.
Make the rice noodles according to the directions which will be something like boil in water, take out when the noodles are tender.
Assemble the rice noodles, turkey, chicken meatballs, and whatever else you want to serve into a bowl and pour the broth on top. Serve with basil, lemon, and jalapenos.