Vietnamese Lemongrass & Caramel Chicken

I really wanted something Asian again tonight, but after the spiciness of the Malaysian Laksa from the previous night, I wanted to tone it down. Vietnamese food is perfect for this as their food is much milder than other countries within South East Asia. This dish is a delicious blend of fish sauce and lemon grass that is full of flavour, but without the bang! It’s a truly fabulous dish. It’s supposed to be served quite dry, but I added a little water at the end of cooking to give us a little sauce which we mopped up with some bread like it was the last meal we were ever going to eat..

For the marinade:

600g chicken thighs (cut into 4cm cubes)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 level teaspoons sugar

Other Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons peanut oil
2 fresh lemon grass stalks (white part only, chopped)
3 small shallots (finely sliced)
2 hot red chillies (seeded and very finely chopped)
2 spring onions (finely sliced)

To make the marinade: In a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic with the sugar and salt until pulped. Stir in the fish sauce and curry powder. Pour into a bowl with the chicken and coat well. Set aside.

Using a small saucepan, mix the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and dissolve. Over a high heat bring to a bubble and without stirring let it change colour to form a golden amber caramel. Remove from the heat as soon as it changes then add 3 more tablespoons of water and stir in well. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

In a pestle and mortar, crush the lemon grass until pulped and very fine. Combine with the shallots and chilli and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat until hot then add the lemon grass, shallots and chilli and stir for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden. Add the chicken and caramel and continute stir frying for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. The sauce will thicken and coat the meat. Remove from the heat and either serve as is, or add 3-4 tablespoons of water to give yourself a little sauce.

Sprinkle with the spring onion and maybe a few toasted peanuts and you’re all set! I served mine with a scrumptious Vietnamese noodle salad, but this dish would work perfectly with jasmine rice.

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