Gà kho sả ớt (Braised lemongrass chicken) is an authentic home-style dish that has left a deep impression on the way I think about food today. A dish that recalls childhood memories both good and bad. Mum cooked this regularly as it was simple and inexpensive to put together on busy weeknights, and comfortably fed and nourished our family of four.
Like many first generation immigrants, my mum worked long hours to make ends meet. Braised lemongrass chicken was on regular rotation and she would only cook it when she was time poor or stressed; it was a meal that required very little thought and energy expenditure. I recall a period when mum cooked this dish in large portions and numerous times a week, usually sticking with the same flavours of lemongrass, fish sauce, chilli and garlic, and occasionally substituting the protein for duck. My father and older brother did not have much to say about this but as a child who did not know any better, I one day grew tired of this flavour combination and erupted, demanding a change to the dinner routine. Needless to say, mum was very upset.
It’s only recently, now that I‘ve moved out of home that when I look back on that heated moment with regret. At the time, I didn’t realise mum was having a hard time at work and dealing with other external stressors. Braised lemongrass chicken was her way of feeding the family a traditional Vietnamese home cooked meal and its constant rotation was her way of expressing herself at that point in time.
Lemongrass, fish sauce, garlic and chilli now feature prominently in my household. A true combination of flavours that pays homage to my childhood, and now my way of communicating to my wife that I miss my mum.Do yourself a favour,introduce your family to braised lemongrass chicken and experience together this simple combination of authentic Vietnamese flavours.
1 kg boneless chicken thighs
1 lemongrass stalk, finely minced (white part only)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoons white pepper
1-3 birds eye chillies, minced
½ teaspoon anchovy salt (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
25ml neutral cooking oil
2 lemongrass stalks, finely minced (white part only)
400ml chicken stock (hyperlink)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
In a large mixing bowl, marinate chicken with all ingredients in the marinade for 30 minutes. For ideal results leave overnight.
In a large casserole pot, add oil and sear the chicken on medium to high heat until golden, then remove from the pot.
Add a touch of oil and lemongrass to the pot, and on low heat saute until lightly golden.
Return the chicken and add chicken stock to cover.
Season with fish sauce, salt,and sugar,bring to the boil, then simmer covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 15 minutes.
Serve with freshly steamed rice and a side of seasonal vegetables.