When I was young, my mom taught me how to cook by taste. We’d be hanging out in the kitchen, and she’d have a pot of soup simmering over the stove.
“Here, taste it,” she’d say. “What does it need?”
“Ummm, sugar?” I’d reply, if something was too salty. And then she’d add a little bit of sugar, have me taste it again, and on the cycle went.
That’s how I learned how to cook – by tasting foods and intuitively knowing how to balance out the flavors. I think that’s how my cousins learned from my aunts too. We didn’t really have recipes handed down to us; we just learned by doing. So when I started to cook more on my own, like in college and after that, even if it didn’t start out so great, I learned eventually what combinations of flavors worked together, and if I was stuck, I’d be on the phone with my mom.
This is one dish my mom would make for us growing up. Just throw a little bit of this in the marinade, a little bit of that. And it turned out great! You can also substitute 1/2 tsp of the canola oil for chili oil to add some more heat, which is what I like to do. This chicken is also great when it’s grilled, but I was fine just throwing it in the pan here.
Lemongrass Chicken (Thit Ga Xao Xa)
1.5 lbs chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, excess fat trimmed off (about 6 4-oz thighs)
3 Tbsp lemongrass, minced (cut the bottom bulb of the lemongrass stalk, peel off the tough outer layers, and mince the tender stalk inside)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp canola oil
1. Combine all ingredients, except for canola oil, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator, for about 1-2 hours.
2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs and cook for about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until done.
Nutrition Facts (1 serving = 1 4-ounce thigh): 180 calories, 9.8 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein