Oh my, how long has it been since I’ve last posted? No, wait don’t answer that..
Er.. And I still haven’t rounded up my Vietnamese week of cooking!! Sssh! I said.
What’s my excuse? Well in all fairness, I had to travel yet again to Indonesia, bringing Bébé with me. And I came back with my mother-in-law who is staying with us for two weeks. So for those of you who know all too well what the presence of a mother-in-law can incur to a household – or my sanity for that matter, will excuse me for the lack of blogging these past few weeks. (Ibu, if somehow you’re reading this, please ignore my last sentence and know that I love having you around, despite your constant fret of how we handle your grandchild xxo.)
Anyhoo, enough chit-chat cause I’ve got a recipe for you. And boy, what a recipe this is! Such a Vietnamese classic, and so so easy to make. This dish is also choke-full of flavour, with a minimum amount of ingredients (not to mention, time in preparing), that it’s almost a sin to have it on a week-night. But a fuss-free week-night dinner it is, and hopefully one that you’ll keep coming back to.
Just a side note: if anything, do NOT skimp out on the cucumbers and coriander leaves (cilantro for my American friends). The crunchiness of the cucumber provides a nice contrast to the soft juicy chicken. And the coriander just makes this dish (any dish really) taste elegant.
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken with Cucumber
Adapted from: Luke Nguyen (who else?), Songs of Sapa, p. 153
serves 2, or 1 very hungry person
- 300g chicken breasts or thigh fillets, cut into bite-size cubes (I used breasts, Luke uses pork neck, and no, my chicken breasts were nowhere near bland and stayed moist)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 100 ml water
- 1 smallish cucumber, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
- handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
For the marinade:
- 2 lemongrass, white part only, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 red chillies, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
MAKE THE MARINADE: In a large bowl, put sugar, fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of oil, half of the minced lemongrass, half of the garlic, and half of the chillies. Stir to combine. Add chicken pieces into the bowl and coat well with the sauce. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes. 1 hour if it’s a Sunday afternoon. Of course the longer your chicken sits in the marinade, the saltier it will be.
TO MAKE THE LEMONGRASS CHICKEN: Heat the remaining oil in a wok over medium-high heat and add the rest of the lemongrass, chilli and garlic. Fry until the odour fills your kitchen. Add the chicken pieces and the sauce to the wok and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Pour in the water and let the chicken absorb it all over high heat. Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and toss in the cucumber ribbons and coriander leaves. Serve immediately with steaming white rice.