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).
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.