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Chicken with Lemongrass

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

We started using more Asian spices and recipes after returning from Vietnam and Cambodia in March, 2016. I was having difficulty finding recipes online the way I usually do, so we searched on Amazon and there were remarkably few books there either. Tonight was my first attempt at using one of the recipes from this book and it was simple and delicious. Fresh lemongrass can be found at some general supermarkets, and certainly at the Asian markets. It is grown in Florida and California, as well as Australia, Brazil, Mexico and West Africa. If lemongrass is old and dried out, you are probably better off using grated lemon rind.

According to one of my go-to books, Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices, the cook's reference, the taste is, "tart, clean, and citrus like with peppery notes." Only the lower part of the stalk, which is white with just a tinge of pale green should be used. You should first pound or "bruise" the stalk with a mortar and pestle (or a flat part of a knife if needed) to release the oils that contain the flavor. You can then either cook your dish with the stalk in chunks and remove it before serving, or slice VERY thinly and leave it in. The stalks are used in curries and stews as well as for tea or for flavoring vinaigrettes.

Tonight, I chose a little of both, using some lemongrass as stalks and letting the rest incorporate into the dish as thin slices. This part of the meal was simple but excellent. I usually don't cook chicken stovetop, but this worked out well. We were a bit tired of fish sauce, so I omitted that.

Adapted from The Complete Asian Cookbook Thailand Vietnam Cambodia Laos & Burma
by Charmaine Solomon

CHICKEN WITH LEMONGRASS

INGREDIENTS:
2 lb chicken - bone in pieces or boneless breasts
3-4 lemongrass stems, white part only, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt (or a little less)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 fresh red chili deseeded and chopped (optional)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped
2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
1) Cut chicken into serving pieces.

2) Gently bruise the lemongrass with a mortar and pestle (or other hard object).

3) Place the lemongrass in a bowl with the scallion, salt, pepper and chicken and toss well to combine. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

4) Heat the oil in a wok or large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the chili and stir-fry for a further 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

5) Add the peanuts, season with the sugar and extra pepper and stir well.

6) Add the fish sauce (optional) and toss to distribute evenly then serve with rice, noodles, (or quinoa, the western version).

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