Tonight I was in the mood for travelling to Vietnam. And so I did, I traveled to Vietnam! As simple as that, only it was not necessary to run to the airport and hop on the first plane to Hanoi or Saigon (as quite some of my friends and acquaintances have done recently), I just had to cook something nice and Vietnamese style to put on my plate for tonight’s dinner and World Food Challenge.
I have never been to Vietnam but that’s obviously in my bucket list. I have a very close Vietnamese friend whom I’ve known when we both were living in China; she used to tell me little things about life in Vietnam, which I have always enjoyed listening to. She is now living in the US, and we keep in touch as often as possible. Joyce is a great cook and a fine palate, and we sometimes exchange our national recipes by FB email. I give her French soups recipes when she asks, and she gives me complicated Vietnamese dishes’s recipes with complex ingredient combinations and infinite pages of cooking directions! Ha ha ha! One of them must have been at some point the Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken recipe, but boy, we’ve exchanged so many FB messages that I can’t even remember until when I have to scroll back to find it! I do remember though that the recipe was coming with vermicelli, veggies, herbs and so on, and I clearly had no time to take care of it all tonight within the limited time I have after work these days. So I took a shortcut on the recipe, searched a bit further on the Internet, mixed a bit of every recipe and readers’ comments altogether, and I adapted the recipe and downgraded it to a “simple” Vietnamese Lemongrass Marinated Chicken. Man, i can tell, this dish really has got the taste of Asia! It’s extremely flavorsome, the chicken skin is lightly crispy, and it has this light sour second taste that you can find in lots of lemon based Asian dishes.
I remind you that I am throwing to myself World Food Challenges at the moment, and I do try the best I can to meet my own rules and requirements, which are to respect the basics of the national recipes I decide to go through with (in terms of ingredients, cooking techniques…) and not to try to overdo it by over-adapting the recipes to my French palate (the goal remains clear, I need to literally feel in my mouth what the country tastes and feels like!).
With any recipe that includes a marinade, it always comes out so much nicer when the meat can rest in the marinade overnight, and not just a few hours in the fridge. The flavors are ten times deeper, the aromas are more striking, and the meat remains so much juicier once it’s roasted! If you got all the ingredients ready and you hesitate to cook this Lemongrass Chicken for tonight’s or tomorrow’s dinner, let me make the decision for you because this really is a no brainer here: it will be for tomorrow’s dinner, sorry woman (or man), but you gotta try to find something else to cook for tonight! So, before you change your mind and decide not to listen to my advice, let’s jump to the recipe.
INGREDIENTS (serves 4)
- Trimmed fresh lemongrass, or Infused dried lemongrass leaves in a small amount of water (you would then use the flavored water for your marinade and discard the dried lemongrass leaves)
- 1 small onion, very thinly minced (or shallots if you prefer the taste)
- 3 medium cloves of garlic, thinly minced
- the zest of a lemon or a lime
- the juice of that same lemon or lime (some recipes recommend orange juice instead, or honey, but I was not willing to waste and discard that lemon that I had just used the zest of).
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large tbsp of ginger powder
- 1 tbsp of fish sauce
- 8 medium chicken thighs
- Prepare the marinade in a large bowl by combining all the ingredients and rub the chicken thighs. Cover the bowl with plastic film.
- Leave at rest in the fridge for 24 hours. No cutting off on the marinating time allowed!
- On the second night, take the chicken out of the fridge, and preheat the oven on the “Bake” position on 200 degrees Celsius (about 400 degrees F.)
- Prepare aluminium foil on the baking tray to protect it from all the up-coming dripping. Your chicken thighs are going to roast on the oven rack just above the foil.
- When the oven has reached the desired temperature, display the chicken thighs on the rack, skin-face down, and bake for 20 minutes with a bit of the marinade solids on top.
- After that time is up, flip the chicken thighs to their other side (skin face up), change the oven positing to “Roast thin meats”, and roast for another 20 minutes after you add a tiny bit more of the marinade solids.
- If you have a food thermometer and if, like me, you are using it today for the first time, hit the poultry in its thickest part and wait for the temperature numbers to go up and stabilize. The chicken is cooked through when the thermometer reaches at least 80 degrees Celsius (about 165 degrees F. I think). Serve immediately!
- If you still have a few spoonfuls of marinade, briefly heat it up in the microwave oven and pour it over your chicken or side veggies.
Enjoy your delicious dinner of tomorrow! You can serve my Vietnamese Style Lemongrass Chicken with greens, or a fresh salad, a soup or whatever suits your diet on weeknights! And in the meantime, while the marinade starts to fragrance up your fridge, take a few minutes to check out my cookbook’s page with orignal recipes samples that are displayed for free!
Created and Written by Sophie Rebibo-Halimi, © 2016 All Rights Reserved.