Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Recipe: Chilli, Garlic & Lemongrass Chicken (Ga Xao Xa Ot - Feeds 4)

If I could recommend a dish that would ease a beginner into South-East Asian cuisine, it would be this one. This is a Vietnamese dish but the flavour it achieves will be very familiar if you enjoy Thai cuisine.  None of the ingredients should be hard to find and most of the flavour is in the marinade which goes in all at once. This is really simple and the flavour is great. I'm confident it will replace your Chinese or Thai takeaway favourites.

Look out for my beginners guide to Thai food that will be posted in the coming weeks.


... Marinade
  • 4 Chicken Breasts cut into 1cm thin, long strips
  • 4 minced shallots
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic 
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, finely mince the tender white end and remove the thin end and woody outer layer
  • 3 to 4 dried medium hot red chillies, ground to a power or minced up with a knife
  • 3  tbsp of sugar (preferably unrefined soft brown sugar/palm sugar but white will suffice)
  • 4 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp of fresh ground pepper

If you can, blend all the ingredients into a paste in a blender or pestal and mortar. Mix with the chicken in a large bowl and marinate the chicken for up to 8hrs but even with no marinating, you will still achieve great flavor.

… And for the rest

  • 3 tbsp Vegetable or groundnut oil
  • 150ml of homemade chicken stock or water
  • 3/4 tsp Salt (or to taste)

... Final Garnish

  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • A large handful of freshly chopped coriander
  • 3 Tbsp of plain peanuts toasted in a pan & then crushed slightly (optional)

Mix the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the chicken for about 2 hours or overnight covered in the fridge.

Heat a large wok on the highest heat (with no oil in) until it starts smoking… then put in the oil. Add the chicken with tongs piece by piece, making sure you drain off the marinade back in the bowl. Make sure the chicken is well spaced out in the pan. Avoid the temptation to move it round the pan and allow it to colour on one side before turning it (this will lock in the moisture and cook the chicken faster). Add any marinade you have remaining in your bowl. Now you can begin stirring this mixture around for even cooking.

Do this for 2 mins and then add the small amount of chicken stock or water (you do not want much of a sauce but more something you can reduce to a glaze). Add a little salt but not too much as the fish sauce would have seasoned earlier on.

Stir and reduce until chicken is cooked through (about 3 minutes after adding stock). Cut open the thickest piece to check it is cooking right through.

Serve on top of freshly cooked thai fragrant jasmine rice and garnish each bowl with plenty of the spring onions, chopped coriander and crushed peanuts.

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