Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicken Stir-Fried with Lemongrass and Chile

This dish I first tried in my favourite Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Hung in Mississauga, and it quickly became my favourite Vietnamese dish. This recipe comes from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors by Andrea Nguyen; I was excited to see how it compared to Pho Hung's dish. The key to this recipe is the curry; use the Madras curry if you can get it, I used something from Japan called Oriental curry, and, while it had similar ingredients, it wasn't spicy enough - at least, that is what I like about this dish. We also added too much coconut milk; you need to "dry it out" in order to get the right consistency. But, still, it tasted similar in a lot of ways, and I'm glad to have another dish I can prepare myself. The second time I tried making it, I used some Madras Curry, as I finally found some, at this Chinese supermarket, I also used a more reasonable amount of coconut milk, and it tasted very much better, more spicy but not hot. We also found out, in talking to one Vietnamese restaurant manager, that this recipe is Chinese-Vietnamese, you would not find it on a strictly Vietnamese menu.

Chicken Stir-Fried with Lemongrass and Chile
1-1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, well trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
2-1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 or 2 Thai chiles, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup coconut milk, canned or freshly made
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped, as garnish
Thai Jasmine rice

In a bowl, combine the chicken, salt, sugar, curry power, and fish sauce and turn several times to coat the chicken evenly. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 hour.

In a wok or large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots, chiles, and lemongrass and stir-fry for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the chicken and the bell pepper; stir quickly to mix. Stir-fry the chicken for about 2 minutes, until they are nicely browned on all sides.

Add the coconut milk, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. Cook till the coconut milk is reduced and barely visible. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with Thai Jasmine rice.

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