Saturday, January 13, 2018

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

About 15 years ago near Aldergrove BC, I was served the most incredible 'Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Broken Rice'. The tiny restaurant, at a gas station on the Fraser Highway, was run by a mother and daughter. I have searched for years to find a reasonable facsimile to their incredible recipe with no success and much disappointment. 
Four years ago I decided to try my hand at replicating their flavors and method. My version below is very close but not the perfection that I remember.
Grill over medium-high heat
Pork can be used as a substitute but my preference is boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat. If you are not familiar with Lemongrass, review my previous post 'Lemongrass Questions Answered'. I would suggest using only fresh lemongrass for this recipe. 

Another ingredient that may need clarifying is 'Ponzu Sauce'. I was introduced to this incredible sauce in Hawaii and it has been a staple in my house ever since. Ponzu Sauce is a classic Japanese citrus sauce most commonly served with soy included. It can be purchased in most grocery stores, found in the same aisle as soy sauce or there are recipes on line to make your own.

VIETNAMESE GRILLED LEMONGRASS CHICKEN      Yield: 3-4 servings
Chicken thighs are the perfect protein for this dish as they remain moist when grilled, pork can be used as a substitute. This recipe can easily be doubled.

1 lb. (6-8 pieces) boneless, skinless chicken thighs 

Serve over steamed rice

Marinade:

2 Tbsp. golden sugar 
2 Tbsp. diced onion
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh lemongrass (1 stalk)
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic  
1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. Ponzu Sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 Tbsp. grape seed oil
With a meat mallet, pound the chicken until thin but not falling apart. Set aside.
Put the sugar, onion, garlic and lemongrass into an electric mini chopper and process to a fine texture. (Or, mince the garlic, shallot, and lemongrass individually, put them into a bowl, and add the sugar.) Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Aim for a relatively smooth texture. The marinade will be chocolate brown. Transfer to a bowl. 

Into an 8x8" glass dish, spread a small amount of the marinade to coat the bottom. Lay a single layer of pounded chicken pieces, spoon marinade on the chicken and keep layering chicken and marinade to cover all sides of the meat well. Cover the dish and refrigerate to marinate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Let the meat sit out at room temperature for 30-45 minutes to remove some of the chill before grilling. 

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Keep a close watch, it will burn easily. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil before serving. If serving with chop sticks, the chicken can be sliced into strips.
Serve with rice and stir-fried or grilled vegetables. 

Traditionally, this meal is served with steamed rice, fresh shredded lettuce, fresh cucumber, tomato and beansprouts.

Till next time ... Bon App├ętit!

www.gourmetbysallyrae.com
Recipe by Sally Rae
Photos by Sally Rae 

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