This Vietnamese-inspired chicken dish is supremely versatile. Serve it straight from the roasting tray, with rice and shaved wombok (cabbage), and crushed salted red-skinned peanuts over the top. A little fermented chilli paste mixed with the pan juices makes a nice condiment, too. Chicken thighs are perfect for this dish – they really take on the marinade and the connective tissue makes for a succulent result. For more intense flavour, marinate overnight.
8 chicken thighs, skin on
For the marinade
2 lemongrass stalks, finely sliced on an angle
20g fresh turmeric, finely grated
2 red bullet chillies, split lengthways
2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
1 heaped tbsp vegetable stock powder
2 tsp ground white pepper
2½ tbsp fish sauce (preferably Vietnamese; check gluten-free if required)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1. Turn a chicken thigh skin-side down and run a knife along both edges of the bone, cutting along and around it until you can gently pull it away from the flesh. Repeat for each thigh.
2. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour half the mixture into the bottom of a shallow dish or storage container, spreading it evenly. Place the thighs in the dish, then spread the remaining marinade over the chicken. It's best refrigerated overnight, but not imperative: a few hours' marinating will still be worthwhile.
3. Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan-forced).
4. Place thighs in a roasting tray and cook for 40 minutes, basting halfway through.
5. Remove from the oven, turn thighs in the cooking juices and serve straight away with rice and condiments.
Serving suggestions: You could also wedge the hot chicken into crusty rolls with coriander, cucumber, chilli, pickles and some cooking juices for a take on banh mi. The chicken is just as good cold, sliced and used in a wrap, sandwich or salad. Slice finely and toss through coriander, Vietnamese mint and/or Thai basil, vegetables and pickles for an Asian-style salad; or shred and add to a rice noodle salad, or ramen-style soup.
Tip: You can use bone-in thighs if you prefer, but you'll need to add another 20 to 25 minutes to the cooking time. It's desirable to leave the skin on, however, as this moistens the meat and adds to the juices.