A Vietnamese-Inspired Noodle Bowl

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I don’t know about you, but chicken is our go-to meat and it gets boring. Recently, I was mulling over what to do with some chicken thighs.

What did I want to eat? What kind of flavor would excite me to cook?

I started thinking Vietnamese—something with high flavor and a different taste profile from what I’d been cooking over the past few days.

So, I boned the thighs, marinated them and Steve grilled them when he came home from work.

Now you can just eat the chicken as is, with some rice, or do what I did. I sliced some to serve over rice noodles with a simple sauce and a topping of fresh herbs. I saved the rest of the chicken for banh mi sandwiches the next day.

This week, I’m sharing the noodle recipe; new week, the banh mi. While the ingredient list may seem long, the recipe is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass stalk
2 teaspoons naturally brewed soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Thai bird chile, seeded and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 skin-on boned chicken thighs

In a small bowl, make the marinade by combining sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, soy sauce, garlic, chile and pepper. Put chicken thighs in a zip-top gallon freezer bag and pour marinade over; seal. Through the bag, massage marinade around the chicken. Refrigerate for 2 hours over overnight, turning bag at least once.

Drain off and discard marinade. Grill chicken over high heat to sear both sides; then on medium heat to prevent burning until cooked through. For charcoal grills, use the two-zone method.

Makes 4 servings (2 thighs each) as a main dish.

Marinade adapted from a recipe in Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan, published by ten Speed Press (Berkeley), c. 2012.

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken over Noodles
2 small garlic cloves put through garlic press
1 small Thai bird chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
¼ cup water
1 package (14 ounces) medium rice vermicelli
4 pieces Grilled Lemongrass Chicken (see recipe above)
¼ cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts
Thinly sliced jalapeno (optional)
Thai basil, cilantro and/or mint leaves

To make the sauce, in small bowl, combine garlic, chile, sugar, lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce and water; set aside.

Boil vermicelli according to package directions, drain and rinse in cold water to bring noodles to room temperature. Drain thoroughly and divide equally into 4 bowls.

Slice chicken and arrange over noodles, dividing equally. Pour sauce over noodles and top with peanuts, jalapeno, if using, and herbs. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe for the sauce adapted from The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier; published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York) c. 1989.

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Posted: Sep 17th by Sandy_Hu