A Defining Flavor
Texture of Sugar Crystals
Lemongrass is a defining flavor of Vietnamese cuisine.. It’s used to flavor many dishes, including tho signature Chicken dish where, incidentally the Lemongrass should be chopped as finely a sugar crystals — use a sharp heavy cleaver, not the blender to get the right texture. For some other ideas on using Lemongrass in cooking, explore the “Lemongrass” link on this site. Adapted from Charles Phan.
Lemongrass Chicken / Mè gà
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons Chicken Sock or Water
Pinch of Sugar
½ cup Vegetable Oil
1 pound Chicken Meat, skinless and boneless – best a mix of breast and thigh meat, cut into one-inch cubes
1 cup thinly sliced Red Onions
2 teaspoons fine chopped Garlic
½ cup Lemongrass, finely minced
1 Jalapeño, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 tablespoons Rice Wine
1 tablespoon Roasted Chili Paste — (follow link for recipe)
2 Green Onions, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped Roasted Peanuts
First whisky together Fish Sauce, Stock and Sugar until the Sugar is dissolved. Set aside
Next heat a wok over high fire until drops of water evaporate on contact. Add Oil and heat until shimmering but not smoking. Put in Chicken and cook,turning occasionally,for 3 to 4 minutes., until lightly browned.
Next pour off about a tablespoon of the Oil from the wok and heat again ver medium-high fire. Add Onions to the Chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until jut softened.
Then add Garlic, Lemongrass and Jalapeño and cook another 30 seconds.
Finally add the Rice Wine and deglaze the pan. Add the Fish Sauce mixture, Chili Paste and Onion and continue cooking another minute, until the Green Onions have softened and Chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the Peanuts. Serves 3 to 4.
Lemongrass is key to this dish. For best results don’t use a blender, but use a heavy cleaver and chop until the Lemongrass is the consistency of crystallized sugar before using it in this dish. This should probably be the first thing to do as it’s the most labor intensive.
From the health viewpoint, this Chicken dish is very low in fat, as the skins have first been removed. Removing he bones and cooking with the other aromatic ingredients produces a dish that is totally different from Chicken in, for example, the Col. Sanders version of the Standard American Diet.
For a variation on this approach, see the link for Fried Chicken with Pepper and Lemongrass in this site.