Savory and garlicky with just a hint of sweetness, Lemongrass Chicken is a crowd pleaser! A simple marinade of lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce, and soy sauce is the key to this dish. Serve with rice or noodles or in sandwich ^_^
My parents cook with a lot of lemongrass and one of the first recipes I learned from them was lemongrass chicken. We are this dish a lot growing up (though my mom made it with pork chops).
It's an easy dish in which the flavor rewards are much greater than the effort. It's also a forgiving dish in terms of proportions. And you can easily size this recipe up or down.
The main flavor here is lemongrass, and lots of it. Lemongrass takes a little extra work to prepare so when we do use lemongrass, we prepare a large amount (more info on how to do this below) and store the extra in small Ziploc bags in the freezer.
We do the same for ginger! This is the kind of prep work that really comes in handy for last minute meals.
Here's what you'll need:
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs - dark meat is best for this recipe.
- Lemongrass - you'll need very finely chopped lemongrass anytime you use lemongrass in a marinade. We do this our mini food processor, it will save you a ton of time and energy.
- Garlic - the more, the better!
- Fish sauce - we use this brand.
- Soy sauce
- Sugar - I try to omit sugar in most recipes but it is necessary for this recipe. Don't skip the sugar.
- Olive oil - the oil is optional but makes the chicken more silky, I always add it.
- Cilantro - optional
See recipe card for quantities.
Let's get cooking:
Clean and dry the chicken thighs. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside.
Scatter the garlic over the chicken thighs.
Scatter the lemongrass over the chicken thighs.
Combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and olive oil (if using) in a small bowl. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs.
Mix the chicken so that it is evenly coated with the marinade, garlic, and lemongrass. (I like to use disposable gloves for this step to keep my hands clean).
Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour (and up to 8 hours).
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before cooking. Add a drizzle of oil to a pan, over medium-high heat.
Remove a chicken thigh from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off (but no need to purposely scrape off any marinade).
Place 2-3 pieces of chicken on the pan. Pan fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side till golden brown.
Make sure the pan is not crowded. The chicken pieces should not touch each other.
Depending on the size if the pan, you may need to do this in a couple of batches.
Plate the chicken, top it with chopped cilantro (optional). Eat and enjoy ^_^
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few we like to do:.
- Pork - use pork chops in place of chicken. Use thin cut pork chops, aim for ½-inch thick cuts. Ask the butcher to do this for you.
- Lime - squeeze juice from one lime to the marinade.
- Oil - the oil is optional in this recipe. I used to omit it in hopes of being more healthy, but you know what? It doesn't call for that much oil and the result dish is so much more silky and tasty with just a little oil. I usually use olive oil, but it's also great with avocado oil.
Also keep in mind that the ratios in this recipe are pretty forgiving. Add more garlic if you like (can never go wrong with tons of garlic). Extra lemongrass is also tasty. Either way, we hope you enjoy this chicken lemongrass recipe :).
All you need is a bowl to marinate the chicken. And a pan to cook the dish! If you want to grill the chicken, you'll need a grill.
Store the leftovers in a sealed container. It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments.
People sometimes find lemongrass an intimidating ingredient to work with. But it is not. It requires just a little extra work, but nothing hard or messy. We purchase lemongrass from Chinatown and it can be found at most Asian markets.
For this recipe we want to use very finely chopped lemongrass because like to have the little bits clinging on to the chicken when we cook it. We purposely don't use large pieces that we discard.
To prepare the lemongrass, first remove the thicker/tough outer layers. Then cut off the dry tops and the hard bottom. You'll be left with the tender inside part of the lemongrass (save the hard/tough parts to make lemongrass "tea").
We use only the tender insides of the lemongrass for this recipe. Use a good knife to chop, chop, chop. To get it very finely chopped, use a mini food processor.
This recipe uses two stalks of lemongrass, but we often prepare a lot at a once (like 10 or more stalks) and store the extra in the freezer. Portion out two stalks worth of lemongrass per Ziploc bag. Then when you need lemongrass for a recipe, just take it out of the freezer. Makes life easier ^_^
Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. As long as you fall within that range, it will be delicious.
Any less than 1 hour and the chicken ins't flavorful enough. Any more the 8 hours and then it feels a little too salty.
To make a tasty Vietnamese plate, prepare a dish broken rice (cơm tấm) and top with Lemongrass Chicken and a wedge of Cha Trung, which is Vietnamese egg meatloaf. Super delicious!
Add a few slices of tomato and cucumbers if you have it available. Don't forget a small side bowl of Nuoc Cham / Nuoc Mam, the classic Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce.
You know how much we love local plate lunch and Korean plate lunch. Vietnamese plates are no exception ^_^
Lemongrass Chicken Recipe
- 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped optional
- Clean and dry the chicken thighs. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Scatter the garlic over the chicken thighs.
- Scatter the lemongrass over the chicken thighs.
- Combine fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and olive oil (if using) in a small bowl. Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs.
- Mix the chicken so that it is evenly coated with the marinade, garlic, and lemongrass. (I like to use disposable gloves for this step to keep my hands clean).
- Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour (and up to 8 hours).
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 5-10 minutes before cooking. Add a drizzle of oil to a pan, over medium-high heat. Remove a chicken thigh from the marinade and let any excess marinade drip off. Place 2-3 pieces of chicken on the pan. Pan fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side till golden brown. Make sure the pan is not crowded, the chicken pieces should not touch each other. Depending on the size if the pan, you may need to do this in a couple of batches.
- Plate the chicken and top it with chopped cilantro (optional). Eat and enjoy ^_^
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