I tell people it's worth visiting Vietnam just for the food – that's how good it is. It's everything you know it to be: fresh, vibrant, colourful, full of flavour. And there is masses of it, everywhere.
All across Vietnam you'll find a variety of popular dishes made using some approximation of this lemongrass marinade. Dishes such as broken rice (com tam), a traditional breakfast dish of rice served with marinated, grilled pork chops; Bun thit nuong noodle bowls topped with marinated pork, lettuce, pickled vegetables and loads of fresh herbs, doused liberally with nuoc cham, the sweet-savoury sauce that's served with everything in Vietnam; the caramelised pork belly that comes with Hanoi's famous bun cha; skewers grilled over charcoal on the side of the street; even the meat stuffed inside particular varieties of banh mi ... I really mean it when I say it's everywhere!
So if you've been lucky enough to visit Vietnam, this dish will bring back many memories. And if you haven't – it will certainly transport you there.
RecipeTin Eats x Good Food: Vietnamese chicken
This versatile lemongrass marinade works with chicken, pork, beef, tofu, fish or seafood.
Vietnamese lemongrass marinated chicken
The beauty of this marinade is its versatility and the incredible flavour you can achieve with relatively few ingredients. Use it for chicken, pork, beef, tofu, fish or seafood. For authentic flavour, barbecue it if you can. And if you want to feel really smug, keep a stash of marinated meat in the freezer ready to thaw, then cook on demand.
700g boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 tbsp vegetable oil, for cooking
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised then sliced diagonally 0.5cm thick
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp fish sauce
1½ tbsp soy sauce, light or all-purpose
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-2 bird's eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
To serve (optional)
red chilli, deseeded and sliced
Vietnamese red rice (see note)
1. Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken, turn to coat. Marinate for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight.
2. Heat oil in a skillet or frypan over medium-high heat. Cook chicken for 3 minutes on each side or until deep golden brown. If they darken too quickly, reduce heat. Alternatively, barbecue the chicken over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
3. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. Serve with fresh lime, chilli, coriander, a side of Vietnamese red rice (see below) and Vietnamese coleslaw. Alternatively, make Vietnamese noodle bowls (bun ga nuong) – see note below.
Serves 4 as a main
Vietnamese red rice
This traditional Vietnamese side dish is essentially a tomato fried rice! Melt 25 grams of butter in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Saute 1 minced garlic clove for 15 seconds, then add 3 cups of cooked, day old white rice, 1½ tablespoons tomato paste and 2 teaspoons Maggie seasoning (the Maggie seasoning can be substituted with half a teaspoon chicken stock powder and one teaspoon soy sauce).
Vietnamese chicken noodle bowls (bun ga nuong)
Serve this chicken on a bowl of rice vermicelli noodles topped with bean sprouts, julienned carrots, a generous handful of Vietnamese mint and coriander. Douse generously with nuoc cham dressing.