“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present and the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
A Simple Vietnamese-Inspired Weeknight Meal
I’ve long admired Asian cuisine for its complex combination of flavours, both fresh and crisp and just as often fiery and soothingly savoury. And the subtle differences not only from country to country but also between the regions within those countries is quite breathtaking. It’s really a beautiful style of flavouring and cooking.
When I say I’ve long admired it, I mean from a distance, a polite sort of “pass the Har Gow and the sticky rice please” kind of way rather than a “wow I can’t wait to make a huge pot of Beef Rendang!”
Why? The stunningly high number of ingredients and stages of preparation. I interviewed a chef/owner at an Indonesian place in mid-town Toronto a while ago for Village Living Magazine (read it here). He told me that the base for many of his sauces takes 24 hours to cook and has somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 ingredients! Wow! And NO! I mean I’ll enjoy it at his place definitely but I am not tackling that level of cookery.
This Vietnamese-inspired chicken is entirely from my imagination… does real Vietnamese chicken potentially have about 43 more ingredients? Yes, possibly, but as noted above… ya NO! So I rooted around through my pantry and fridge and came up with these simple ingredients for a very distinctive taste that is easy to not only create but also RE-create over and again for any old weeknight dinner.
I’m also a HUGE fan of chicken thighs… for a long time they were low on the healthy lists because of their APPARENT fat count, but recent studies are showing that they are not in fact that much higher in fat than breasts, and they pack about 50 million more pounds of flavour to say nothing of their incredibly LOWLOWLOW cost!
Pair these gorgeous little thighs a simple salad and a bit of brown rice and you have an easy, healthy weeknight staple that takes about an hour to create and that includes the time those thighs just sit in the marinade doing their own thing!
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs OR 4 boneless skinless breasts
- 3 TBSP fish sauce
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil (another mildly flavoured oil will also work)
- 3 TBSP rice wine vinegar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2" piece of ginger finely diced or grated
- 1 chilli pepper finely diced OR ½ tsp chilli pepper flakes (amount will depend on desire for heat)
- 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 large handful cilantro, cleaned and rough chopped
- Lightly score chicken pieces and places in a bowl.
- Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.
- Allow to marinate for at least an hour or up to several hours in the refrigerator.
- Take chicken out of fridge for 20 minutes or so prior to cooking.
- Grill or cook in a cast iron on the stove top until no pink remains in centre.