Cool rice noodles. Marinated chicken. Fresh herb salad. And sweet and spicy nuoc cham dipping sauce. That’s why a Vietnamese lemongrass chicken noodle bowl can’t be beat for dinner on a hot summer night.
I am a fan of Vietnamese bun – the classic noodle bowl. Doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, beef or pork. I like it all. Bits of super flavourful grilled meat on a bed of cool rice noodles just works for me. It’s one of my go to recipes when I go for Vietnamese.
Best part is though, that Vietnamese lemongrass chicken noodle bowls are easy to make at home. One of the easiest Vietnamese dishes in fact. Marinate some chicken. Boil some noodles. Whip up some nuoc cham. Good to go. Way easier than those crazy Vietnamese soups like pho or mi bo kho.
Vietnamese lemongrass chicken is a good recipe to know even if you aren’t making noodle bowls. The marinade works all over the place. It’s a natural for grilling. Skin-on chicken works really well. Bigger pieces even. Maybe not so chopstick friendly but perfect for a funky backyard barbecue party. Or chicken burgers. Or wings. Don’t get me started on Vietnamese lemongrass wings.
All of these ideas work with nuoc cham. Nuoc cham is the perfect mix of salty, sweet, sour and hot. The hallmark flavours of southeast Asian cooking. Never heard of it? It’s everywhere in Vietnamese cooking. It’s the dipping sauce that comes with spring rolls. The sauce you drizzle on your noodles. And if your wondering, it’s perfect for wings. Just magic stuff.
I like thighs for this recipe. I like thighs for everything though. Dark meat is richer tasting. Harder to overcook. White works too though. You just need to pay closer attention when grilling.
You want the chicken fairly thin to maximize the surface area. Maximum surface area equals more marinade and grill flavour. And more marinade and grill flavour means bigger taste. And that’s what it’s always about. Always.
Try Vietnamese lemongrass chicken in a noodle salad. But don’t forget wings. Or a grilled chicken sandwich. Try it. You’ll find all sorts of ways to love it.
Make Vietnamese lemongrass chicken when you feel like a light, healthy but crazy delicious dinner.
- 2 stalks lemongrass - tender inside part coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp shallots - minced
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 lime - juiced
- 4 large chicken thighs - boneless, skinless or use boneless breasts if you like
- 10 oz rice noodles
- cilantro, mint, thai basil, baby greens, bean sprouts, julienned carrots and lime - basically whatever you feel like adding
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice - about 1 large lime
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 2/3 cup hot water
- red chilies to taste
Prepare the marinade. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken and mix well.
If using chicken breasts, slice the breasts in half along the horizontal axis. You want fairly thin pieces to maximize surface area. For thighs just pound them lightly to flatten.
Add the chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about an hour.
While the chicken marinates prepare the nuoc cham. Combine all the ingredients and stir. Make sure the water is good and hot. You need to make the sugar dissolve. Set aside at room temperature.
Cook the noodles. When they are just tender drain through a colander. Rinse with cold water until the noodles are cool. Set aside at room temperature.
Prep your vanishes. Wash them as needed. Pull cilantro, mint and basil leaves off the stems. Julienne any vegetables. Slice the lime. The chicken won't stay hot long so be ready to go.
Prepare your grill for high heat. The chicken will cook quickly so you don't have long to get it to colour up. Grill over high heat until just done. This doesn't take long at all. Two to three minutes per side.
Build your noodle bowls. Divide the noodles into 4. Top with mixed greens and whatever garnishes you choose.. Slice the chicken into bite size pieces and scatter overtop. Drizzle with nuoc cham and pass additional nuoc cham along side to let everyone dress their bowls to taste.