Vietnamese-Style Lemon Grass Chicken

Lemon grass is a tropical grass (Cymbopogon citratus) native to southern India and Sri Lanka, yielding an aromatic oil used as flavouring and in perfumery and medicine. It appears often in Vietnamese dishes, giving them a wonderful citrus aroma.

I especially like its use with chicken, and here is a Vietnamese-inspired recipe that is redolent with lemon grass. It is a tasty dish that is relatively easy to make. Instead of using a whole chicken, I use chicken thighs, which I feel are tastier and easier to handle.


  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 900 g (2 lb) chicken thighs with bone in
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 175 g (6 oz) onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 2 red or green chillies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 100 g (4 oz) roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

For the Marinade

  • 5 stalks fresh lemon grass
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions


Blot the chicken dry with kitchen paper. If you are using unboned thighs, remove the skin and bones from the chicken thighs or have your butcher do it for you. Cut the chicken into 2.5-cm (1-in) pieces.

Peel the lemon grass to reveal the tender, whitish centre, crush the stalk and cut it into 7.5-cm (3-in) pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the lemon grass, salt, pepper and spring onions and allow to marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to low. Add the chicken together with the marinade ingredients and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Then add the onions, garlic, ginger and chillies and continue to stir-fry for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and peanuts and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes. Finally, add the fish sauce and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes, mixing all the ingredients well. Transfer the contents of the wok to a warm platter and serve at once.