This recipe is for everyone that grew up in Little Saigon in Orange county California. Little Saigon is not a single town but expanse of suburbia that encompasses the largest and most diverse Vietnamese diaspora outside of Vietnam. The first wave, second wave, and new family reunification immigrants all found their way to the warm climates of southern California. Like any community, the range of immigrants was diverse: rich and poor immigrants, educated, uneducated, professionals, and laborers. All of them needed food to remind them of home. Restaurants popped up to serve fellow immigrants and priced the menus to attract them. One such restaurant was Nhà Hàng $1.99 which opened in the 80’s and as it’s name suggested, everything on the menu was $1.99! It fed people of all ages, class, gender, and fed them well and is still going strong today. While most items are no longer $1.99 the name still has meaning and its prices have barely kept up with inflation (at the time, this was great for poor immigrants, but over the years likely contributed to the stereotype that Vietnamese should be cheap to be authentic).
One of it’s most famous dishes is the 1/2 cornish hen with its addictive buttery, sweet, and oniony sauce. Here’s a sample quote on Yelp, about this sauce: “I don’t know what the f**k they put in that sauce but it is CRACK I tell you CRACKKKK!!! Had to start off the review with that because if there’s one thing that could possibly bring the world together during this crazy time, it would be the Chicken Sauce. I could drink a cup of that sauce” A lot of people seem to feel that way and we don’t disagree! Here’s our copy cat version.
- 2 tbs oil
- 1 tbs garlic
- 1/2 yellow onion medium, finely chopped
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 1/4 cup golden mountain soy sauce or light soy sauce
- 1 tbs sweet soy sauce
- 1/4 stick unsalted butter
- black pepper
- 2 tbsp Roasted chicken juice optional
- In sauce pan on medium heat, add oil and sautée and sweat the onions, shallots and garlic until softened and slightly transparant but not browned. Add the soy sauces and chicken roasting juices if using. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Finish with few turns of freshly cracked black pepper.