Have you ever tried chicken thighs infused with lemongrass flavor? I will explain how to prepare the classic lemongrass chicken in this article.
If you want to throw in some Asian flavor apart from the typical soy sauce-based Chinese cuisine, this Vietnamese-inspired pan-fried lemongrass chicken chop will guarantee to be a total crowd-pleaser. The almost universal appeal of the aroma of lemongrass will surely welcome by everyone in your family.
Best of all, it only involves two steps- marinate and pan-fry, which is why I prepare it for so many times. The accompanying dipping sauce is optional.
How to prepare the lemongrass chicken chop
1. The cuts of chicken – thigh versus breast meat
The marinade of lemongrass chicken recipe is suitable for any cuts of chicken. Chicken thigh is the most common cut of chicken used in this recipe because it is juicier and more tender than chicken breast meat.
It is best to leave the skin on because it will become crispy after pan-frying over low to medium heat. Ask your chicken vendor to remove the chicken thigh bone. Chicken thigh without the bone can be flattened easily, and cooked more evenly during pan-frying.
You may also cut a few slits on the chicken thigh if you find that it is too thick, although it is optional.
2. How to prepare lemongrass for use in Asian cooking
Lemongrass is a ubiquitous ingredient where I live and is equally popular in Thailand and Vietnam. It has a pleasant, complex, refreshing, almost citrusy smell that you can infuse into the chicken. We use it for many varieties of cuisine and is indispensable for making Malaysian curries. Most of us are familiar with how to deal with the lemongrass. Here is the step by step explanation on how in case you are new to it.
- Cut off the end of the stalk about 1 cm crosswise.
- Discard the leafy side of the other end.
- Remove the first and second outer layers of the lemongrass, which is dry and unpalatable.
- Now what is left is the bulb of the lemongrass, which has a light yellow color.
- Slice the lemongrass crosswise thinly.
- Finely chopped the lemongrass
It is more convenient to use a blender to process the lemongrass into fine pieces, especially when you are cooking a large quantity.
3. How to prepare the lemongrass chicken marinade
There is a long list of ingredients for the marinade. It looks complicated, but in fact, it is quite easy to prepare. All you need is to mix everything up and add the chicken to marinate. There are no special techniques involved.
Lemongrass – the main ingredient
Lemongrass is the crucial ingredient of the lemongrass chicken recipe. It is widely available in South East Asia. If you are living in other countries, you can get it in most Asian grocery stores. Sometimes they may not have the fresh lemongrass, and you have to settle with the frozen one. Some of the frozen lemongrasses have been washed with the leafy part removed.
You need to chop the lemongrass finely (important!) so that the chicken meat can absorb the flavor. If you are making a large amount, use the blender to process the lemongrass into a powdery form to encourage the release of flavor.
Other ingredients for the Vietnamese lemongrass chicken marinade
Shallot, garlic, and ginger. Ginger and garlic impart the typical Asian flavor, which should not be omitted. Shallot is of less importance and can be left out since I also include the white part of the scallion. All these ingredients must be finely chopped or processed with a blender.
Ground white pepper. White pepper is far more common than black pepper in Asia. You may substitute it with black pepper as the difference is minimal.
Light soy sauce and fish sauce. I do not use salt to season the chicken. The light soy sauce and fish sauce are both salty, which is sufficient to provide the level of saltiness you want. The Vietnamese like to use a larger quantity of fish sauce, but the Chinese prefer using soy sauce. You can adjust the ratio between the fish sauce and the soy sauce. The reason for not using salt is because both sauces impart flavor in addition to the saltiness.
Lime juice. Lime juice provides the sourness to balance the sweetness of sugar. If lime is unavailable, you can use lemon as the substitute. Vinegar is not the best option because it lacks the tangy flavor.
Sugar and oil. There isn’t any significant difference between white and brown sugar. If you want to enhance the flavor with honey, reduce the amount of sugar required. Sugar is necessary to caramelize the chicken during pan-frying. As for the oil, it helps to pull the marinade together.
4. Marinade for chicken overnight
Marinating the chicken overnight is crucial for the success of the Vietnamese lemongrass chicken. It will not be the same if you marinate the chicken for only one hour compared to the flavor if overnight. I learned this from my experience working in a restaurant, in which the lemongrass chicken chops always taste better the next day or on the following days after marinating. The same process is happening here, as adequate time is necessary to let the flavor infuse into the inner part of the chicken meat.
Planning is crucial since the result is always better if you prepare and marinate it a day before.
5. How to pan-fry the lemongrass chicken chop
You can pan fry the lemongrass chicken thighs, or pop them into the oven to roast them. If you prefer to pan-fry the chicken, I have the following tips for you to make it a success.
- Heat the oil in the pan. The temperature is just right if you can feel the heat from the pan when you place your palm 1 inch above the pan.
- If the oil starts to smoke, reduce the heat and wait for the oil to cool down before you put the chicken into the pan.
- Place the chicken thigh skin side down in the pan. Be patient not to use high heat, since the sugar in the marinade will caramelize and burn the skin quickly.
- Resist the temptation to move and check the color of the skin side. If you feel that the skin is sticking to the pan, it is most likely that it is not done yet. It takes about 3 minutes to brown the chicken skin over low to medium heat. You can add a small amount of oil and loosen the skin from the pan. Alternatively, use a non-stick pan will solve the problem.
- I will only turn the chicken thigh over once so that the presentation side (the skin side) has a beautiful and clean char mark.
- Continue to pan fry the skinless side. An average size boneless chicken thigh should take about five minutes to cook through.
- If you have a kitchen thermometer, check the temperature of the thickest part of the chicken. The chicken is thoroughly cooked when the temperature reaches 70°C//160°F.
How to serve the lemongrass chicken chop
The lemongrass chicken chop can be a stand-alone meal. It is also ideal for serving with soup noodles.
To serve, cut the chicken thigh to three or four large pieces, place it on steamed rice as the topping of a bowl of noodles, and drizzle some scallion oil (please refer to the recipe) on it as a garnish.
You can prepare a Vietnamese style dipping sauce to serve along with the lemongrass chicken.
Here is the simple recipe for this sauce, which can be prepared within minutes.
All you need is to combine the sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and water. Once the sugar is dissolved, sprinkle some chopped garlic and red chili. This source has the typical flavor of Vietnamese food, which is the combination of sweetness, sourness, and saltiness.
Other Asian recipes cooked with lemongrass
As I said earlier, lemongrass is one of the essential ingredients in Southeast Asia cooking. There are several recipes worth trying on this blog.
Malaysian curry chicken is a quick and easy recipe that you can whip up within half an hour. Another favorite recipe prepared with lemongrass is beef rendang, which is the best selling item in our restaurant for many years.
This lemongrass chicken chop is similar to the Vietnamese pork chops. You can head over to this article where you can find the recipe and the video demonstration.
For the chicken (A):
- 4 chicken thigh, skin-on, deboned
- 4 shallots, minced
- 2 tbsp lemongrass, minced (or blend)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 stalk scallion, white part only, finely chopped
For the scallion oil (mỡ hành)(B)
- 2 stalk scallions, green part only, chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- A pinch of salt
For the Vietnamese dipping sauce (nước chấm) (C)
- 50 ml hot water
- 50 g sugar
- 50 ml lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 50 ml fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp red chili, minced
- Cut off both ends of the lemongrass. Use the bulb only. Remove the outer sheath and chop it finely.
- Minced the shallots, garlic, and ginger finely.
- Slice the scallion into thin pieces. Use the white section to marinate the chicken and the green part to make the scallion oil.
- Combine all the ingredients in A. Marinate the chicken overnight.
- On the next day, pan-fry the chicken, skin side down for three minutes. Pan-fry the other side until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Cut the chicken into large pieces. Pour the scallion oil (B) on top as a garnish. It can be served with steamed rice or as a stand-alone meal.
- To prepare the dipping sauce, mix all the ingredients in C over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then sprinkle with chopped red chili and garlic.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 973Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 41gCholesterol: 333mgSodium: 4704mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 4gSugar: 47gProtein: 67g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/2/2020