Lemongrass grilled chicken

A great marinade for Vietnamese or Western grilled meals.

This is one of my favorite grilled dishes from my favorite Vietnamese recipe blog. The original recipe is for pork, but I’ve used the marinade with chicken thighs, beef, and shrimp and all were great.
I’ve been a fan of Viet Work Kitchen for quite some time. One of the recipes that has made my regular rotation is the marinade for lemongrass pork that I use more frequently than called for. I started making it because I wanted to make great bánh mì (sandwich) and bun (cold noodle salad). The grilled pork works wonderfully for either application, but I can’t resist the flavor and caramelization of the marinade on several other meats and dishes.
Shown is lemongrass chicken with grilled asparagus (same marinade, though simple olive oil and garlic works as well) and garlic fried rice (I’ll post a recipe sometime) and a 60 C egg. All around a great meal, and one I’ll make many variations of in the future.

1 lb chicken thighs (or other grillable meat)

For marinade:

1 T brown sugar
1 T  garlic
1 T shallot
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and chopped (~3 tablespoons)
1/4 t black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1 T oil

Blend marinade ingredients in blender or food processor until texture is relatively smooth. Add meat to marinade and refrigerate overnight. Grill, preferably on a charcoal grill at medium – high heat. Remove when cooked through and caramelized.

And a confession: there was no meatless Monday this Monday, as I had a 4th of July BBQ and while I did BBQ plenty of vegetables and some tofu, I BBQed even more meat, including this lemongrass chicken and some more mu ping skewers.

She Simmers’s Mu Ping (Grilled Pork Skewers)

I can’t remember how it was I happened upon She Simmers‘s website, likely a robotic recommendation from twitter based on my other interests, but I can barely remember how I cooked Thai food before finding it, and I’ve only known about it for a few months.

Thai has always been one of my favorite cuisines to explore–I rarely tire of the bold, yet balanced flavors. It’s now been about twelve years since I began my quest to learn about the cuisine, plowing through Kasma’s recipes and lessons for taste balancing and purchasing ingredients, seeking out the best Thai restaurants and groceries New York had to offer, and working through many of David Thompson’s Thai Food recipes and descriptions. I’ve learned how to balance flavors, roast shrimp paste, and pound some pretty decent curries, but it always felt like an excerise to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the food and recipes, it just seemed like I was doing all the work–seeking out the dish I want to make, gathering the ingredients and equipment, and executing with nothing more than a picture, or some other non-Thai friends and family opinions on the result.  But somehow each post on She Simmers makes me want to make that dish immediately (like Kaeng Som, the Thai Sour Curry posted today) and provides a thorough guide as to how, with interesting asides about the Thai language and restaurant/vendor scene.

The recipe for the mu ping is here. I followed it pretty much exactly. I had long been puzzled what cut “pork neck” so common on Thai restaurant menus was, but Leela did the research to determine it is pork butt/shoulder. It is the best cut to use for these skewers. Country-style ribs also work if they are well marbled. They aren’t a well defined cut, as they are kind of between the baby backs and the shoulder.  The other secret, besides the marinade ingredients, was to baste with coconut milk while grilling. This kept the meat moist, and added a great flavor to the grilled meat. The first skewer was so delicious I ate it without any of the accompaniments, and allowed it to distract me from the second skewer, which I picture here, slightly overdone, but still delicious.

Mu ping on the grill, brushed with a bit of coconut milk.