It pays to make friends with certain people in your life. This has proved true with the lovely Chau, who has been doing my nails every two weeks for the last five years. Whenever I head to ‘Sexy Nails’ for my nail appointment at lunch, much fun and frivolity ensues as all at work yell out a chorus of “SEXY NAILS” as I walk out the door. It makes us laugh.
When you have visited someone every two weeks for a number of years, you start to develop a wonderful friendship. The ladies at Sexy Nails have been teaching me a little Vietnamese (I’m terrible at it in truth – and they all giggle when I try and pronounce it) and Chau (pronounced Jo) has taken a keen interest in Chew Town. Many a nail session involves talk about cooking techniques and flavours.
Chau recently confessed that she had a very large and impressive garden at home that she loves to toil on a daily basis, as a break from owning and running the nail salon, and raising two young boys with her husband. She was telling me about all the wonderful things she grew in her garden and I got a little excited. Many of the Vietnamese vegetables and herbs were not things I could easily get my hands on in my Italian and Greek focused neck of the woods.
She promised to bring me a bag of goodies from her garden two days later, and I returned to the sight of the freshest herbs and a bag of the longest lemongrass stems I’d seen. After receiving my bag of goodies this recipe idea shot to the top of my list, and that night I jumped into the Chew Town Test Kitchen to test recipes for these Lemongrass Chicken Skewers.
The recipe looks complicated as there are a lot of ingredients, but really its very simple. I’ve cut out all the fine chopping by using a stick blender to make a fragrant paste which is added to the mince, shaped onto the lemongrass and cooked on the BBQ. I’ve also included the recipe for a great easy dipping sauce which really does take the skewers to another level.
These make a great entree, or would be an impressive inclusion at your next BBQ.
Lemongrass Chicken Skewers
Makes 8 skewers
9 lemongrass stems
25g fresh ginger, in 4 pieces
3 cloves garlic, skinned
4 spring onions, white stalks retained and roughly chopped
1 hot red chili, stem removed and roughly chopped
Small handful fresh coriander
Small handful Thai basil
Juice of half lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce
500g chicken mince
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoons lime juice
Prepeare 8 of the lemongrass stems by removing one or two of the outer layers till you reach the white section. Set aside.
With the last remaining stem, roughly chop the white portion and add to a large bowl along with the ginger, garlic, spring onions, chili, coriander and basil. Blend with a stick blender until a paste has formed, then stir in fish sauce and lime juice.
Add the chicken mince to the bowl with the paste and add the desiccated coconut. Stir gently until just combined then portion the mixture into 8 in the bowl.
Lightly oil your hands in preparation. Taking a portion of the mixture and a lemongrass stem at a time, shape the mixture around one end of the stem and set aside on a tray or board. Repeat with remaining mixture and stems. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Prepare the dipping sauce by combining sugar, water and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and let it continue to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in fish sauce and Sriracha sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, after which add the lime juice and it is ready to serve.
To cook the skewers, heat olive oil over medium high heat on a BBQ (or in a large frypan). Add skewers and fry for a few minutes each side turning as they cook until the outside is browned and the inside is completely cooked. Serve with the dipping sauce and jasmine rice.