Monday, June 1, 2009


...for a recurring craving:Vietnamese Vermicelli Bun with Grilled Lemongrass Chicken


(The list of ingredients/accompaniments may be long, but it is easily varied and, once assembled, you have only to choose your preferred combination)

For the marinade:

1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and sliced
1 Tb. granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 shallot, minced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tb. Vietnamese fish sauce
splash of tamari (or other soy sauce)
1 Tb. sunflower, canola or peanut oil

1 - 1 1/2 Lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded very thin
(shrimp or tofu would be good also)

Suggested accompaniments:

1 package rice vermicelli, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
shredded Romain lettuce
fresh sprigs of mint, cilantro and basil
lime wedges
nuoc chom*
Vietnamese hot chili sauce
julienned carrot, cucumber and scallions
fresh mung bean sprouts
chopped peanuts
crispy fried shallots


Crush the lemongrass with the sugar and salt with a mortar and pestle until a paste is made (a food processor may also be used). In a shallow bowl, combine the lemongrass paste with the shallot, lime juice, fish sauce, tamari, and oil. Stir to combine and add the chicken, being sure to coat each piece. Cover and refrigerate 6-8 hours.

Bring the chicken to room temperature and prepare charcoal grill. When coals are ready, grill the chicken until cooked through and nicely seared. Remove to a board, allow to cool slightly, and slice the chicken into 1/2 inch strips.

Assemble the bun: For each serving, add to a large bowl a bit of shredded lettuce, some of the julienned vegetables and bean sprouts. Top with a serving of vermicelli. Lay strips of the chicken on top of the noodles, and serve with torn herbs, fried shallots, peanuts, lime wedges, nuoc chom, and chili sauce.
*Nuoc chom recipes abound - I used the version found in this book. However, the ratio of lime juice/rice vinegar to fish sauce and the addition of hot chilies and/or garlic are largely subject individual tastes and are easily modified by experimentation.
It's beginning to taste like summer.


Sylvie said...

That looks like the perfect fresh and light meal for this time of year.

smoo said...

That is beautiful lemongrass. Did you grow it?

Yeon said...

A perfect recipe to use my abundant cilantro and lettuce from the garden! I shall try this weekend!!

Chelsea said...

Sylvie - It really is perfect for warmer weather; I start to crave these flavors as soon as the heat arrives.

Smoo - That particular stalk was purchased. I am growing a lovely patch, but it's not quite ready to be cut. I'm eagerly waiting, though...

Yeon - Yes! This is a great use for an abundance of herbs. I like the subtle difference you can create just by switching Italian basil for Thai or Lime basil and rau ram for the cilantro, for instance.