I tasted lemongrass for the first time in 1986, in a tiny Vietnamese restaurant in Redwood City, a few miles away from my home while I lived in California. I’m afraid the restaurant, Than’s, no longer exists. My former husband and I used to have lunch at Than’s on Saturdays. In those days we knew next to nothing about Vietnamese food, but on our first visit I ordered “Chicken in Lemongrass Sauce,” and thought I had died and gone to heaven. Whenever we returned over the following three years we’d share two dishes, and lemongrass chicken was always one of them. I just couldn’t get over it. Some people say that you can substitute lemon zest, or Meyer lemon’s zest, …they lie. Lemongrass has NO comparable substitute: it’s just that special and just that good.
So, when I had the luck of finding fresh lemongrass in our farmer’s market, I made sure to bring some home, and put it to good use….
THAI CHICKEN BREASTS WITH HERB-LEMONGRASS CRUST
(adapted from Fine Cooking #86, July 2007)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh lemongrass
12 fresh basil leaves
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
salt to taste
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 lime, cut into wedges
Combine 3/4 of the cilantro with the coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, serrano, garlic, salt, brown sugar, pepper and coriander in a blender and puree until smooth. Place the chicken breasts in a dish in a single layer, and pour this marinade over them, turning to coat them completely. Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours (mine stayed 7 hours in the fridge).
Heat a grill to medium high, grill the chicken until it has good grill marks on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue to cook until completely cooked through (check by making a slice into one of the thicker breasts), 5 to 6 more minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and serve with the lime wedges.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: The secret for this recipe is blending the marinade to turn it into a thick paste. The lemongrass flavor is more pronounced this way, a blast of freshness in perfect balance with the coconut milk and herbs.
Food memories can be so strong! While slicing the lemongrass, I went straight back to Redwood City, and could almost visualize the table cloths in that simple, but amazing restaurant. It was run by a husband and wife, their two young kids very shy peeking at the customers from behind the counter. I often wonder where they are now, probably all grown up and graduated from college. 😉
ONE YEAR AGO: Greens, Grapefruit and Shrimp Salad
9 thoughts on “UNDER THE SPELL OF LEMONGRASS”
Sally, my mouth is watering! Great looking chicken!!
Hi Sally 🙂
I’ve planted some lemongrass in my garden a few weeks ago and I love your recipe : I’ll try it VERY soon, thank you!
Have a nice week-end
I made these several times and they are delicious. Yours looks better than mine!
Lemongrass is one of my favorite flavors. I will have to try this one.
Sounds so delicious Sally! we can get fresh lemongrass in Water Sky the huge eastern supermarket across town, so I will definitely have a go at this one!
Thank you, everybody
I hope you all give this recipe a try, very flavorful, I am craving it already…. Carole, I can see why you would make it often, my only problem is the availability of lemongrass, so hard to find here!
mmmh, lemongrass is one of my favorite grass. Delicious and fragrant!
well apparently i am a year late finding this recipe but better late than never. We live in the midwest and i grow my lemongrass in pots and bring them in in the winter.. so tedious, but SO WORTH IT.. out with the scissors and snip snip for this chicken.. c
Indeed, better late than never! Glad you found the recipe, it’s a keeper, IMHO… 😉