Grilled lemongrass chicken is a perennial favorite at Vietnamese restaurants. Why not give it a go at home? Chicken thighs and fresh lemongrass are dressed with fish sauce, tamari sauce, and Asian chile sauce before being grilled to perfection. Ginger rice on the side makes for a darn good dinner at home.
Adapted from Kristine Kidd | Weeknight Gluten Free | Weldon Owen, 2014
Vietnamese food is a favorite at my house and inspired this slightly spicy dish, fragrant with lemongrass. Green beans tossed with sesame oil are a fitting accompaniment. If you don’t eat gluten, double-check that your tamari is gluten-free, since some are made with wheat.—Kristine Kidd
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
For the lemongrass chicken
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 1 fat or 2 thin (1 oz) lemongrass stalks peeled and minced*, or 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian chile sauce (such as sambal oelek or Sriracha)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
For the ginger rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup uncooked brown basmati or jasmine rice
- 2 teaspoons gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- Chopped scallions for garnish
Prepare the lemongrass chicken
- In a medium bowl, mix the shallot, tamari, sugar, fish sauce, lemongrass, oil, chile sauce, and salt. Cut any excess fat from the chicken. Add the chicken to the bowl and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate while preparing the rice.
Make the ginger rice
- In a small saucepan, bring water, ginger, and salt to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until tender, 15 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand at least 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, then mix in the tamari.
Grill the lemongrass chicken
- Meanwhile, prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over high heat. Clean and oil the grill grates.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill rack, cover, and cook until springy to the touch and cooked through, with an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), 4 to 7 minutes per side.
- Divvy the rice among 4 warmed plates. Top with the chicken, sprinkle with scallions, and serve immediately.
*How do I mince lemongrass?To mince lemongrass, pull off the outer layers to reveal the tender white inner core. Slice thinly crosswise, and then chop. Use a heavy knife because lemongrass is very fibrous.
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Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This grilled lemongrass chicken is a great weeknight meal because of the simple preparation but is also a meal I’d serve to guests. I expected a stronger flavor from the chicken considering the ingredients in the marinade; however, it was tasty and very tender. If you like a stronger flavor, I’d suggest maybe more Sriracha or a longer marinating time. The ginger rice is a perfect complement. The meal presented beautifully served with Asian-inspired coleslaw.
This grilled lemongrass chicken was a very tasty dish, which felt light and healthy to eat. The chicken in this recipe had a wonderful, clean taste with great flavors. Using brown rice made me feel somehow virtuous. I try to use it more and more, but having the recipe specify the use of it, somehow pushed me in that direction. I served stir-fried sugar snap peas with pine nuts, ginger, dry sherry, and soy on the side.
This grilled lemongrass chicken recipe really is an amazing flavor bomb. For anyone daunted by the thought of working with lemongrass, it’s NBD (no big deal) and so worth it for the tart lemony flavor (not to mention wonderful aroma when prepping). The key is to peel away that tough outer layer and use the softer inner layer. Adding all the other flavors to the marinade: tamari/soy, shallot, fish sauce, Asian chili sauce…flavored the chicken like nothing I’ve ever had. None of the flavors overpowered and they all melded wonderfully together. That’s not always the case, especially when fish sauce is involved!
And then the genius of ginger jasmine rice to serve with the chicken made this dish a real hit. This recipe was incredibly easy to make and took just over an hour from start to finish. Chicken thighs are not the easiest to work with but they do make a difference when all is said and done. Chicken breasts would work but they wouldn’t impart the same juicy tenderness that really completes this dish. Rarely can you find such an easy and quick recipe that packs such wonderful flavors! I got two servings and served them with grilled asparagus.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Grilled lemongrass chicken is a favorite of mine when I visit a Vietnamese restaurant, and now you and I can make it at home! And I daresay, it’s even better. No dry overcooked chicken here, these thighs were perfectly grilled, juicy, salty, and sweet. And I really enjoyed the nice hit of ginger in the rice, (I left out the additional soy called for in the rice). With this recipe, you can have the chicken and rice on your table in 30 to 40 minutes.
Marinate the chicken, start the rice, and then throw the chicken on the grill. Throw on a few veggies while you’re at it, I grilled sliced eggplant and asparagus spears to round out my meal. I used some of the leftover marinade and brushed it on my veggies while they were grilling so as not to waste the yummy bits left in the bowl. This was a big hit for a quick weeknight meal, and I can see keeping this recipe handy. I’m already thinking about grilling up another batch and making a vermicelli noodle and herb salad–soon.