In my last post I mentioned making some lemongrass chicken skewers, so here they are!
I had read about a traditional way of cooking meat in South-east Asia, skewered on stalks of lemongrass although where exactly that was, I don’t remember. With a bundle of long, thin lemongrass stalks at my disposal, it seemed like the best thing to do with them. I could have turned them into a Thai curry or added them to pots of steaming rice, but this idea seemed most appealing. Besides, I didn’t have much in the way of other ingredients at my disposal and wanted the lemongrass to be the star of the show.
As I wanted to save some of the lemongrass for other things (namely cake), I cooked half the chicken on ordinary bamboo skewers but these weren’t nearly as tasty. Despite marinating the chicken breast in a simple paste of lemongrass, garlic, red chilli and fish sauce, the herbal-citrus flavour of lemongrass didn’t really stand out. These would be perfect for a barbecue (I cooked them under the grill in the oven), but if you can’t get hold of lemongrass stalks, untrimmed of their thinner upper parts, them I wouldn’t go to the trouble of it – you’ll struggle to build the skewers successfully on the fatter parts. If you want to put a bit more in the marinade, go for it: I’d recommend lime, coconut milk, turmeric for colour or other flavours of South-east Asia.
In a mini food-processor, blitz the fat parts of the lemongrass as finely as possible, scraping down the sides of the bowl whenever necessary. Then add the chillies and garlic and process further, before adding the fish sauce to loosen. Alternatively, you could use a pestle and mortar to make a more authentic paste.
To construct the skewers, puncture each piece of chicken through the centre with the tip of the thinnest knife you have (you won’t be able to pierce the chicken flesh using the lemongrass stalks alone), before threading them onto the stalks of lemongrass. I managed to fit 6 pieces of chicken on each skewer.
Coat the skewers in the marinade paste and leave covered in the fridge for at least a couple of hours or overnight. To cook in the oven, place the skewers on a baking tray with the marinade under a preheated grill and cook for 15 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Enough for 4 skewers.
To make the tomato salad I served alongside it, combine a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar with two teaspoons of sesame oil, a finely minced spring onion and a generous pinch of a sugar and salt before drizzling over sliced tomatoes.