Sometimes you need to shake things up. Grilled chicken can be a trap. You get into a rut – making the same 3 dishes over and over. If you’re stuck there, this recipe is for you. Bright citrusy flavours. A bit of smoke. A hint of chili. The tang of ginger. It all comes together in this dish. Vietnamese grilled chicken is a great way to bust out of your grilled chicken funk with a bang.
I’m a charcoal fan. I am actually a huge charcoal fan. Don’t own a gas barbecue. Haven’t for years. A decade. Maybe longer. Charcoal adds a flavour that gas barbecues just can’t. Smouldering wood chips over propane is not the same thing as charcoal. If you don’t believe me you haven’t had anything cooked over charcoal in a while. If you are in the market for a new grill I urge you to try something like a weber kettle. It costs less than all but the cheapest gas grill and it will last a lifetime. Good value IMO. Great flavour too.
Vietnamese grilled chicken is great over charcoal. This recipe was developed over charcoal. I’m sure it will work over gas – but I don’t think it will be as good. Sorry.
This recipe is adapted for grilling from a couple chicken recipes in May Pham’s The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking. That book is a little jewel. Worth seeking out in second hand book stores. The ginger lime dipping sauce is pretty close to the hers as well. The noodle salad is all me.
Serve it up plated individually or family style. It’s a perfect dish to share at the table. The noodles are a bit slippery but that’s part of the fun. You could also serve this as a great small plate in a bigger menu. Couple bites of noodles with a bit of chicken on top. If you’re doing it small plate style think about boneless, skin-on thighs or breasts cut into smaller pieces.
This Vietnamese grilled chicken may not be on any Vietnamese restaurant menus yet. But if should be.
- 2 large shallots, finely diced
- 2 stalks lemongrass, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sambal oelek (red chili paste)
- ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp ginger, very finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, very finely diced
- ½ green chili, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- juice of a lime
- 4 Tbsp sugar
- 8 oz broad rice noodles
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ red pepper, diced
- 1-2 green chilies, thinly sliced
- leaves from a big handful of cilantro, torn
- leaves from a big handful of mint, torn
- chopped peanuts
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup ginger lime dipping sauce
- Joint the chicken. Quarter the chicken, removing the back. Separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Remove the wings from the breasts. Cut each breast into 3 roughly equal pieces. You should have 12 pieces of chicken.
- Combine the marinade ingredients. In a large bowl, toss the chicken in the marinade. Marinate for no more than 2 hours. Lemon is an acid. It "cooks" the chicken and can result in a mushy texture.
- Chop the ginger, green chili and garlic as finely as you can. If you have a morter and pestle, grind them together.
- Add the remaining dipping sauce ingredients and stir thoroughly to dissolve the sugar. Let stand about 1 hour before using.
- Remove the chicken from marinade.
- If using a gas grill, set it up for high indirect heat. Place a drip pan under the grill on the cool side. Grill the chicken over the dripping pan for about 25 minutes. Move the chicken over high heat briefly to add grill marks if desired.
- If using a charcoal grill, bank the charcoal on both sides and place a drip pan in the middle. Grill the chicken over the drip pan for about 25 minutes. Move it over the charcoal carefully to add grill marks.
- Soak the noodles in hot water for 40-45 minutes to soften. Do not boil them. Please.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Add the noodles and stir fry until they soften. Remove the pan from heat. Add ⅓ cup ginger lime dipping sauce. Stir briefly and add the green onion, red pepper and green chili.
- Alternately you can serve this with a cool noodle salad. You need to cook the noodles first. A soak won't quite do it. Then toss the noodles with the green onion and the peppers. Drizzle with the dipping sauce and a bit of the herbs and peanuts. Works great either way. Mix it up. It will be fine.
- Spread the noodle mixture on a plate. Sprinkle with cilantro, mint and peanuts - or whatever you feel like. Top with the grilled chicken and drizzle the ginger lime sauce overtop. Serve additional dipping sauce on the side.