Despite this blog’s positive transformation of my cooking and shopping habits I still have days when I can’t be bothered, usually in the dark of winter when I’m feeling a tad melancholy, or work has been uninspiring or, like tonight, when I am getting a cold. All I could think of this evening as I coughed my way towards home was hot toddies and toast. However, the WTF effect kicked in as I remembered this recipe. It’s one of the ones that inspired me to buy the newest Granger book (it was in the Saturday Telegraph back in the summer) and one of my colleagues at work had raved about it. As ever it offers a pragmatic approach: use lemon zest if you haven’t got/can’t get lemongrass and, in my version I am even more pragmatic: asparagus is out of season but purple sprouting is just back in so use that instead. It is unbelievably simple and made me feel so much better than the usual cold remedies. Obviously, I snuck in some hot whisky with honey and lemon afterwards…
Vietnamese lemongrass chicken (adapted from Bill’s Everyday Asian)
For two portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
garlic cloves, 1½-2
sea salt, ½ teaspoon
neutral oil (sunflower or groundnut), 1½ tablespoons
sugar, 1 teaspoon
ground turmeric, ½ teaspoon
large green chilli
lemongrass stalk, or the grated zest of 1 lemon
chicken thigh meat, 400g
purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli, 100g
fish sauce, 1 tablespoon
soy sauce, 1 tablespoon
lemon juice, 1 tablespoon (about half a lemon)
spring onions, 2
ground white pepper (fresh if you can get it; I can’t so I used ground)
jasmine rice, to serve
1. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. De-stalk and chop the chilli (I find using kitchen scissors the least painful way of doing this), trim and peel the outer layers off the lemongrass stalk and chop it into small pieces.
2. Put the garlic, chilli and lemongrass into a pestle and mortar or small food processor with the turmeric and salt and pound/process to a paste. A word of warning: depending on the type of pestle and mortar you have turmeric may stain it; mine was stone-coloured and it’s now a bit more yellowy.
3. Chop the chicken into small pieces and put it in a bowl with the paste; mix together well then put it in the fridge to chill for about ten minutes.
4. Whilst the meat is marinating/chilling, juice the half of lemon, trim the celery stalk and broccoli if necessary and trim the spring onions. Cut the spring onions and celery into long thin pieces.
5. If you are serving steamed rice with this, put it on to cook about five minutes before starting on the chicken.
6. Once the chicken has marinated, put the oil into a large frying pan or wok and heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. I let it cook a little bit longer than that so that I was sure it was nearly cooked through and took some colour too.
7. Add the celery and broccoli and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes.
8. Add the fish and soy sauces, lemon juice, spring onions and white pepper. Stir to heat through for a minute or two then serve with steamed rice.