Unfussy Fare

Lemongrass Chicken with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce


Happy New Year! I’m afraid all the holiday hoopla led me to neglect my little blog for a couple weeks. It’s too bad, because a lot of mighty fine eating went on around here. Not to worry, though. I saved some recipes for you, which I’ll trot out over the next few weeks.

In response to holiday butter overload, I decided to make a New Year’s Eve dinner that involved no milk fat. I am here to report that no flavor was sacrificed. In fact, the lemongrass chicken with ginger-lime dipping sauce was all the fireworks I needed to declare an auspicious beginning to 2010.

I was concerned that using so much lemongrass would result in a splintery, crunchy texture, like eating roasted bamboo. But I chopped the lemon grass very finely, and by the time it marinated all day then cooked for an hour, my worries proved unwarranted. The lemongrass just added fabulous flavor and a light note of crispness to the perfectly browned chicken skin.

The lemongrass was tantalizing, but the ginger-lime dipping sauce was the real star of the show.  It’s hot, sweet, salty, tangy and irresistible. I plan to make it again ASAP. I think I’ll marinate shrimp in it, then grill and dip. There’s almost nothing I would not happily dip in this sauce. It would make a fabulous dressing for a salad with grilled beef. The possibilities are endless. Make a double recipe of the sauce. You’ll thank me.

I served this chicken with coconut rice and stir fried broccoli with garlic and chili flakes. Sadly, I only managed to take the one uninspired picture. We had a houseful of hungry people ready to eat, and I didn’t have time for pictures.

This recipe was inspired by one in , from the Best of Fine Cooking series. Their recipe is for roasting a whole chicken. I used thighs and drumsticks. I also added some liquid to the pan for a sort “broasting” effect (crispy on top like roast chicken, moist on the bottom like braised chicken.) It worked out perfectly. This is a fantastic dinner-party dish. The bulk of the time goes into the marinade, which is made well in advance, and the chicken doesn’t need much attention while it cooks.


½ cup finely chopped lemongrass (3 or 4 stalks)
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
4 ½ teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks with skin and bone
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a large non-reactive bowl, combine all but two tablespoons of the lemongrass with the shallots, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, chili flakes, salt, and sugar. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate from six to 24 hours, stirring two or three times. Bring chicken to room temperature for an hour before cooking it.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix chicken stock and lime juice in a small bowl.

Place chicken in a single layer in an oven-proof skillet or baking dish, skin side up. Pour and scrape the marinade from the bowl onto the chicken. Add the chicken stock and lime juice mixture to create a shallow layer of liquid around the chicken.

Roast chicken for 45 minutes, basting once or twice with pan juices. Meanwhile, mix the last two tablespoons of lemongrass with the cilantro and oil.

After 45 minutes, remove chicken from oven and spread each piece with some of the cilantro mixture. Return chicken to oven and roast for 10 more minutes.

Remove chicken from pan and serve with ginger-lime dipping sauce.


2 cloves garlic
2 Thai bird chiles (I substituted about one tablespoon of diced jalapeno without seeds.)
1 teaspoon of chili-garlic sauce (available in the Asian section of most groceries)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce (also available in the Asian section of most groceries)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar

Chop garlic, chiles, and ginger finely (or mash them to a paste with a mortar and pestle). Place the chopped or mashed ingredients in a small bowl.

Add chili-garlic sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, water, and sugar. Stir to blend. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

10 Responses to “Lemongrass Chicken with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce”

  1. hungry dog says:

    This sounds great, yet another to bookmark. I hear you on the picture taking–sometimes you ust can’t get it done when you’ve got hungry people (including yourself) to feed. Happy new year!

  2. Gillian says:

    Thanks, Hungry Dog. I hope you got some good eating in over the holiday season. My only regret about the lemongrass chicken (besides not taking a pretty picture) is that I failed to consider how heavy my giant steel skillet would be with all that chicken in it. (I made one and half of this recipe.) I tried to take it out of the oven with one hand on the long handle. It tilted from the weight, and I burned the perfect shape of the end of the all-clad handle into my forearm. But I did not drop the chicken. That’s devotion.

  3. Suzie says:

    Basic question for a basic gal….What’s a “non-reactive” bowl?

  4. Gillian says:

    Hi Suzie: A nonreactive bowl as opposed to a bowl that might react with the food you put in it. Glazed ceramic is generally nonreactive (if it’s made to be a mixing bowl, anyway). Glass is good. Stainless steel is good. Reactive bowls might be copper, aluminum, some kinds of plastic.

  5. Lisa Belt says:

    But the burn is an awesome tribal marking on your forearm. (the All-Clad Crazy Blog Lady Tribe)

  6. Gillian says:

    Yeah. I’m thinking All-Clad should give me a free pan or something for burning the shape of their handle onto my body. Some pan-designer somewhere worked long and hard choosing that exact taper to the very attractive handle.

  7. Cat says:

    This sounds really delicious. I love flavors that are bright and light. I love the flavors of the dipping sauce, too.

  8. Evan says:

    The marinade has begun… It seems dry, though. Will it really come out as moist and saucy as it looks in your photo?

  9. Gillian says:

    Hi Evan: The marinade itself isn’t all that moist, which is why I add some chicken stock and lime juice to the pan for the cooking. You don’t serve all that pan juice in the end. It works well for keeping the chicken moist while it cooks, but it’s too fatty to make a good sauce. Hence the dipping sauce. But perhaps I’m too late with this message?

  10. Evan says:

    As I stirred the chicken every few hours, it all seemed to moisten up on its own. In the end, it was yummy, and we enjoyed having new flavors at dinner, especially the lemongrass. This was a good recipe to stretch my skills, not that the recipe was hard, but that my skills needed stretching. What’s next?

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