Lemongrass Chicken


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)

serves 4-6

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

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9 Responses to Lemongrass Chicken

  1. sharon says:

    I grew up cooking just the same way! Lovely recipe.

  2. Phi says:

    Yup- my mom was the same way. I can just SMELL this recipe by reading it- mm mm good.

  3. Julie says:

    This is lovely, I really enjoy lemongrass and I definitely need to become more at ease with using fish sauce! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. nutritioulicious says:

    My mom also would cook by tasting! She may have started with recipes, but they can’t be found anymore. Now when I want to make something of hers I need to watch her closely in the kitchen to see what she does!

  5. lan says:

    Wow, you got a food blog too! Makes me want to start one, if only I cook enoug! Howdy from sovsl!

  6. Yum. Simple, fresh and flavorful.
    My mom cooked from a can. I asked for a cookbook for Christmas when I was 20, decades ago now. Joy of Cooking, that is how I learned to cook. I still have the cookbook, and had it rebound a few years ago.

  7. I’ve never really cooked with lemongrass before but always wanted to. This recipe inspires me. So simple. I love your description of how you learned to cook. A model for mothers today.

  8. Yummy! I love lemony flavoring when cooking.

  9. I love trying new chicken recipes on the grill! Definitely going to have to give this one a shot!

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