We're back! These past few months have been pretty crazy with traveling. First we were in Austin, Texas and then we went skiing in Colorado for a week. And in another week I will be down in North Carolina. Lots of travel means few(er) blog posts. Sorry guys. I have a few prepped and ready to go that I will get up over the course of the next week or so, but it's not going to be a big February on the blog. Here's hoping March will be a bit quieter.
I know we have made a dish that sounds (and in reality is) shockingly similar to this one about a year ago. It was called Caramelized Chicken with Lemongrass and Chili from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens. The key differences between these two recipes - coconut milk, red bell pepper, Madras curry powder and much less lemongrass in this particular rendition. This recipe also contains a lot less sugar than the other version (I guess that's what happens when you aren't trying to caramelize your chicken), but the coconut milk will lend its own sweetness. Otherwise, the ingredients are strikingly similar. To be perfectly honest, I can't decide whether I preferred the flavors of the Caramelized Chicken with Lemongrass and Chili or the flavors of this dish. As I said, they are very similar. The dishes were equally flavorful and both had a really good amount of spice, balanced against the sweetness of the coconut milk sauce in this dish and the caramel sauce in the other dish. The Caramelized Chicken with Lemongrass and Chili was fresher and brighter (with a lot more spicy, floral lemongrass flavor), but this dish was warmer and richer. I really enjoyed the warmth of the curry powder - even though Madras curry powder isn't exactly a Vietnamese flavor. I could take or leave the red bell peppers in this dish, but I always feel that way about cooked bell peppers. In the end, if I was only able to make one of these two dishes again, I would probably pick the other dish by a hair.
Recipe after the jump!
Chicken Stir-Fried with Lemongrass and Chili
Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors
By Andrea Nguyen
1 1/3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, well-trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp Madras curry powder
2 1/2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp canola or other neutral oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 or 2 Thai or serrano chilis, finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (about 3 tbsp)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch squares
1/2 cup coconut milk
3-4 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped
Combine chicken, salt, sugar, curry powder and fish sauce in a bowl. Stir to coat chicken evenly. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour (we did an hour).
Heat oil over high heat in a wok or large skillet until hot but not smoking. Add shallot, chilis, lemongrass and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chicken mixture and bell peppers. Quickly stir-fry to coat with the aromatics, then let the chicken sear, undisturbed, on one side for about 1 minute. Using a wok spatula, flip the chicken pieces over and sear on the other side, undisturbed, for about 1 minute. Add coconut milk, lower the heat to simmer, and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking. The chicken is done when the coconut milk is barely visible and the chicken is cooked through.