Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

Oh… Vietnamese food is so interesting, flavourful and quite complex. In my eyes, probably one of the most underrated cuisine in the world and one which could merit some recognition. Regrettably, most of the Vietnamese restaurants often fall under the “fast food” categories and rarely will you see a ‘fine dining’ Vietnamese establishment, at least in Europe…what a shame. Affordable and easy to access in most cities, the same dishes appear in most menus, yet Vietnamese cuisine is so much more than Spring rolls and Pho Soup. It is to me one of the most refined, balanced and interesting cuisine in the world. Always balanced with equal amount of salt, sweet, sour and spicy, with a hint of umami, it is simply exquisite and so easy to prepare. Most of the recipes in classic Vietnamese cuisine are often not available in restaurants and I recommend to get your hands on a couple of good Vietnamese cookbooks. It is really worth it. As it is often unknown, I take great pleasure in serving Vietnamese dishes when we entertain. As it is so well balanced, it pleases most palates and accommodates discerning foodies. Start with this recipe, which is one we often prepare at home.
This lemongrass chicken can be prepared ahead of time and you can reheat it at the last minute. Simply keep a few lemongrass slices and chopped coriander you can garnish at the last minute. The dish also takes a few minutes to prepare and this meal can be prepared in about 30 minutes.
Serve the chicken with fresh herbs, such as Coriander, Parsley, Chives and a few leaves of mint and you elevate a simple dish into something very interesting. It is usually cooked in a Claypot, but you can use a regular saucepan or a wok.

2 Teaspoons Corn Starch
1 Tablespoon Water
500 Gr. Chicken Thighs cut in bite size pieces
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Garlic cloves
1 Teaspoon Chopped chilies
2 Lemongrass Stalks finely chopped in thin slices
1 Red Onion finely sliced
1/2 Cup of Fresh Chicken stock
1 Teaspoon Fish Sauce
2 Teaspoon Caramel Sauce or 1 Tablespoon Sugar cane finely minced
Cilantro to Garnish or Green Scallions to garnish.

In a small bowl, mix the chicken with the cornstarch and the water. Set aside for 15 minutes.
In a saucepan heat the vegetable oil and when it starts to smoke, stir in the chicken and cook until it the edges turn white. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add a tablespoon of oil and saute the onions until translucent. Add half the lemongrass, the garlic and chilies and cook for a minute. Add the chicken broth, the chicken and cook for 10 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the remaining lemongrass and the fish sauce.
Garnish with coriander and any other fresh herbs you may have and serve with Jasmin Rice.

Caramel Sauce
1/4 Cup of Water
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 Cup of Cane sugar or brown sugar
In a saucepan combine 2 tablespoons of water and the sugar. Set over medium heat, cook stirring with a heatproof spatula. When the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring.
Let the sugar bubble vigorously for about 5 minutes minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 2 minutes, until the sugar has taken the color of dark tea.
Remove from the heat and add 1/4 cup of water – It will bubble considerably and keep at arms length. When the bubbling has subsided, put the saucepan back on the burner and cook at medium heat, until the sugar which may have crystalized, has melted.
Let the syrup cool and transfer to a jar, which you can keep in the fridge for a very very long time. Whenever you make a Vietnamese dish and need something sweet, this is the perfect condiment to enhance any dishes.

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