Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Chicken

When I was a kid, my mom braised lemongrass chicken pretty frequently.  She used to buy whole chickens from the store, cut it up into bite-sized pieces, and braised in fish sauce and coconut juice until most of the juices evaporate and tons of flavors get absorbed inside each chicken piece.  I remember enjoying the flavor explosion in every bite.

These days, instead of cutting up a whole chicken, I use boneless chicken thighs and not have to deal with chicken bones while eating.  This is also much easier for the kids to eat as well.  In our house, we love eating lemongrass chicken with steamed white rice and a side of freshly cut crunchy cucumbers.

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup coconut juice
1/2 cup lemongrass, finely minced
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 green onions, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon coconut syrup
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
2 thai chilies (optional)
1 cucumber, sliced

Steps:
Marinate Chicken – In a medium bowl, combine lemongrass, fish sauce, garlic cloves, sugar, coconut syrup, and crushed black pepper.  Add chicken and mix well.  Cover and marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Braise Chicken – Heat a large skillet high heat.  When skillet is smoking hot, add oil and chicken. Sear and cook chicken for about 10 minutes.  Add coconut juice and bring contents in skillet to a hard boil.  Reduce heat to medium low heat, cover with a lid, and cook covered for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, increase the heat to medium heat and continue cooking uncovered for about 15 minutes or until about 3/4 of the liquid evaporates.  With about 5 minutes left in the cooking process, add green onions onions and mix well.

Tips: 

  • For a spicy kick, add minced Thai chilies or throw in whole chilies during the last 5 minutes of the cooking process.
  • Bone-in chicken works very well for this recipe.  Cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Substitute water or chicken broth for coconut juice.  
  • Substitute molasses for coconut syrup.

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