The refreshing fragrance of lemongrass gives a kick to this quick and easy starter – lemongrass chicken. A good party appetizer too!
I was quite a lazy kid during my teenage years, particularly when it used to come to household work. I used to get so much irritated when my mom asked for any help which was as simple as getting the bottle of milk from the refrigerator when she was engaged in the kitchen or folding the washed clothes and arranging them at their designated places. It never occurred to me that a helping hand in these simple tasks can make someone’s life so easy! Obviously! In that age of party and friends, how could I even imagine what it takes to manage both career and family with two kids!
When I reflect on those days now, I wish if I could go back in time and lend her that helping hand without that bit of exasperation. My granny used to be so worried about me wondering how I would cope after marriage with all the domestic work. I had even heard her scolding my mom for not being strict enough in teaching the household stuff which every girl is expected to be expert in from the very next day of her wedding. But my mom had her own logic and when I think of it now I realize that when she asked me to help her it was not only to get help but also to make me learn with hands-on training! I wish my granny could see me now! Not only the household work, I do everything indoors and outdoors and trust me I enjoy every bit of it! After a hard day in office, I still have the energy to bake an elaborate cake at almost midnight and that too after driving through the maddest possible traffic for 2 hours!
All this is possible thanks to my mom! Even through the irritation, if I hadn’t grown the habit of working at home during my school & college days, I am sure I couldn’t have managed both my professional and personal life in the way I am managing it today. So the bottom-line is even though we think some of the petty work we do are so meaningless and boring, it is actually not so and you never know when it will work in your favor.
With that thought, here is my recipe of lemongrass chicken which I made yesterday night for dinner. My garden-lover husband had grown the lemongrass for quite some time now but I didn’t get a chance to use it in any of my recipes. Then suddenly I landed on this lemongrass chicken recipe at Food-4tots through Foodgawker and immediately decided to make it for dinner. As you might know this already, the flavor of lemongrass is so “out-of-the-world” that it could make any dish simply divine! And this recipe is so simple to make that you must not think twice before making it. I made few changes to suit our taste as Food-4Tots made this one for her toddler, but the basic recipe is same.
Serves: 4 Servings
- Skinless chicken breast – 1
- Lemongrass – 1
- Onion/shallot – 1, small
- Salt to taste
- Fish sauce – 2 tsp
- Garlic clove – 3 to 4, crushed
- Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
- Paprika/red chilli powder – ½ tsp
- Sugar – ½ tsp
- Spring onions for garnishing
Seasoning 2 for caramelized sugar
- Sugar – 2 tbsp
- Hot water – 2 tbsp
- Normal water – 1 tbsp
- Discard the outer layer of the lemongrass. Cut off the upper green leafy parts and use only the tender white bulb from inside. Chop it finely or grind in a food processor.
- Cut the chicken breast into 1 inch bite size pieces. Keep the pieces thin for faster cooking. Slice the onion/shallot finely.
- Combine the ingredients under seasoning 1 in a large mixing bowl and add the chicken pieces to coat. Cover with cling wrap and keep in the refrigerator to marinade for at least half an hour.
- Now it’s time to make the caramelized sugar. In a small saucepan or frying pan, mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of normal water. Cook over high heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Then cook without stirring until a deep amber colored caramel forms. Remove from the heat immediately and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons hot water. You have to be really quick in this step, otherwise you will end up with a deep brown caramelized sugar which is awfully bitter in taste and I am telling this from my experience. So I had to do it all over again!
- Leave the caramel in the saucepan to cool. Do not transfer it out. If the caramelized sugar has hardened, heat up the pan slowly to re-liquefy the sugar.
- Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the lemongrass and shallot. Stir-fry until fragrant.
- Use 2 teaspoons of the caramel to coat the marinated chicken. Then add it to the wok. Add salt to taste but do keep in mind that this dish is on the sweeter side, so do not add too much salt which may kill the lemony sweetness of the dish.
- Stir-fry on medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened.
- Take out on a serving dish, garnish with spring onions and serve with warm rice.
- Quick Tip: When buying lemongrass, look for firm stalks which don’t look dry or brittle. Avoid soft or rubbery stalks. Lower stalk should be pale yellow (almost white) in color while upper stalks are green. Do not purchase those with crusty or brown outer leaves.