Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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In Vietnam, turmeric, garlic, chilies and fish sauce douse chicken with a riot of flavor
Milk Street Bowtie Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken

Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken

Appears in May-June 2021

1 hour 30 minutes active

Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken

Free

In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, home cook Phạm Thị Thanh Tâm taught us to make her version of braised chicken with lemon grass. Seasoned with turmeric, garlic, chilies and fish sauce—staple ingredients in the Vietnamese kitchen—the dish was remarkably simple, yet wonderfully aromatic and full of flavor. Instead of mincing fresh lemon grass, which requires a good amount of time and effort, we simply bruise the stalks so they split open and release their essential oils into the braising liquid; we remove and discard the stalks when cooking is complete. The soy sauce in the recipe is our own addition, a stand-in for the MSG and pork bouillon that Phạm used, and we opt to thicken the braising liquid with a little cornstarch to give the sauce just a little body. Serve the chicken with steamed jasmine rice.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t leave the skin on the chicken. We want the bone, which adds flavor to the braise, but not the skin, which turns soggy with simmering and releases fat into the liquid. But bone-in thighs are almost always sold with skin, so we simply pull it off before cooking.

1 hour

30 minutes active

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
3 stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Ground black pepper
Cilantro or sliced scallions, to serve
Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 2

    Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

  • 1

    tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 3

    stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised

  • 1

    cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2

    tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry

  • 1

    teaspoon cornstarch

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice

  • 1

    tablespoon fish sauce

  • Ground black pepper

  • Cilantro or sliced scallions, to serve

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Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken

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4

Servings

1 hour

30 minutes active

Tip

Don’t leave the skin on the chicken. We want the bone, which adds flavor to the braise, but not the skin, which turns soggy with simmering and releases fat into the liquid. But bone-in thighs are almost always sold with skin, so we simply pull it off before cooking.

Ingredients
  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 2

    Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

  • 1

    tablespoon ground turmeric

  • 3

    stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised

  • 1

    cup low-sodium chicken broth

  • 2

    tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2

    tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry

  • 1

    teaspoon cornstarch

  • 2

    tablespoons lime juice

  • 1

    tablespoon fish sauce

  • Ground black pepper

  • Cilantro or sliced scallions, to serve

Step 1 of 3

Combine Ingredients In Duch Oven

1
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
6
medium garlic cloves, minced
2
Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1
tablespoon ground turmeric
3
stalks fresh lemon grass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
1
cup low-sodium chicken broth
2
tablespoons soy sauce
2
tablespoons packed brown sugar
pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry

In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, chilies and turmeric, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the lemon grass, broth, soy sauce, sugar and 1 cup water, then bring to a simmer.


Add the chicken skinned side down in even layer and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes.

Step 2 of 3

Reduce and Thicken Sauce

1
teaspoon cornstarch

Using tongs, transfer the chicken skinned side up to a serving bowl. Cook the braising liquid over medium until reduced by about half, about 12 minutes. Remove and discard the lemon grass.


In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the mixture into the braising liquid, return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Step 3 of 3

Finish and Serve

2
tablespoons lime juice
1
tablespoon fish sauce
Ground black pepper
Cilantro or sliced scallions, to serve

Off heat, stir the lime juice and fish sauce into the braising liquid, then taste and season with pepper.


Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover and let stand until heated through, about 5 minutes. Return the braise to the serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro.

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