Ga xao sa ot: grilled chicken with chillies and lemongrass
A fiery chicken dish
Aka gà xào sả ớt. A classic of Vietnamese cuisine that I hadn’t got round to revisiting… I got started by a peak at Bach Ngo’s Classic Cuisine of Vietnam, and then went to consult my bible, aka Trầm Kim Mai’s Từ Điển 1001 Món Ăn Việt Nam (Encyclopedia of 1001 Vietnamese dishes). To say that they both had radically different ideas of the dish would be understatement of the century (Bach Ngo’s version didn’t even have the chillies, which is a bit embarrassing for a dish named after them…). I was intrigued by the presence of kẹo dậu phọng, Vietnamese sesame and peanut candy, in Trầm Kim Mai’s recipe, but of course I didn’t have the actual candy at home, so it was a bit hard to add to the mix: I ended up using chopped peanuts, sesame and honey to replicate the addition of the candy to the chicken. The result is… intruiguing, to say the least, sweet and hot at the same time and all made of yummy!
(most recipes for this I’ve seen online use nước màu, Vietnamese caramel sauce)
- 500g chicken
- 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped finely
- 2 heaped teaspoons sugar
- Generous sprinkling of black peper and salt
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon chilli garlic sauce
- ⅓ cup peanuts, crushed coarsely
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Marinate in a mixture of lemongrass, sugar, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce and the garlic cloves. Leave for 20 minutes, covered, in the fridge
- In a wok at medium-high temperature, heat up oil plus 1 tablespoon chilli garlic sauce until it's fragrant and the oil has started to redden.
- Add the chicken and its marinade and cook until the chicken is done.
- Add the remaining tablespoon fish sauce and swirl to make sure it's absorbed.
- Add the crushed peanuts, the sesame and the tablespoon honey, wait for the honey to become liquid again, and mix well.
- Cook until golden.
- Garnish with coriander and serve with rice.