September 13, 2016 § 2 Comments
Over the years (decades really) I’ve experimented with various herbs. My first set of cooking explorations were with dried basil. Which evolved to other dried herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc. As my cooking skills improved I moved on to fresh herbs and even grew my own. I eventually moved on to experimenting with less common culinary flavorings like rose water, sumac, and galangal. With the melting pot of produce available these days I’ve been able to explore a whole new world with fresh ingredients. My latest…Lemongrass.
I’ve always enjoyed the lemongrass flavor in southeast asian cuisine. I tried using dried lemongrass but found the flavor never truly carried through and the hard splintery pieces often ruined the texture of the food.
I am certainly not an expert in utilizing lemongrass but below is a recipe that I’ve made several times and the results have been consistently good. To help infuse the flavor of the lemongrass into the marinade I slice the stalks lengthwise and hammer it with a meat tenderizer. I keep the chunks big enough so any chewy strips can be easily picked out.
NOTE: I like to serve this with two toppings – a fresh chopped herb combination and fried shallots (recipes below). You can also spice-up this dish with Korean Bi Bim Bap sauce as a condiment.
Lemongrass-Cilantro-Lime Marinade (for chicken or pork)
¼ cup Lime Juice
2 Tbls. Fish Sauce
1 Tbls. Soy Sauce (use gluten free soy to make this a GF recipe)
1 Tbls. Sherry or Brandy
1 tsp. Brown Sugar
1 Tbls. Garlic, chopped
2 Tbls. Cilantro, fresh chopped
1 Tbls. Scallions, chopped
1 stalk Lemongrass, fresh crushed*
1 to 1 ½ lb. Chicken, boneless breasts or thighs
1 rack Pork Baby Back Ribs
1½ to 2 lb. Country Style Ribs, or bone-in pork chops
* Crush lemongrass by slicing stalks into 3-4 inch pieces, then slice them lengthwise and hammer it with a meat tenderizer. This will help the flavor blend into the marinade better.
Marinade – In a bowl, combine lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sherry or brandy, brown sugar, garlic, cilantro, scallions, lemongrass, and white pepper.
Pour mixture on meat, coating well. Place chunks of lemongrass between meat to help the flavor disperse. Let it marinate at least 1 hour to overnight.
Grill meat – Grill chicken on medium high heat with an open lid. Meat should be browned and cooked through. Thin pieces generally cook in 10-15 minutes.
Grill ribs on low heat with a covered lid. Depending on the thickness of the ribs, it will take about 20-30 minutes on each side. Monitor grilling because fatty areas of ribs may cause flame to flair and cause charring of ribs.
Alternately, chicken can be cooked using a grill pan and ribs can be baked in an oven.
TOPPING 1: FRESH HERBS
¼ cup Basil, fresh chopped
¼ cup Cilantro, fresh chopped
¼ cup Mint, fresh chopped
1 Tbls. Scallions, chopped (optional)
In a bowl, combine basil, cilantro, mint, and scallions, stirring herbs until they are mixed evenly.
TOPPING 2: FRIED SHALLOTS
2 lg. Shallots, sliced
1 cup Vegetable Oil (or Canola)
Heat oil in small pan so oil is about ½-inch deep. Carefully add 1/3 of shallots into hot oil and cook until light brown. Remove cooked shallots with slotted spoon onto paper towel. Repeat with each third. Shallot flavored oil can be saved for use in other dishes.
Serving suggestions – Serve meat on cooked sushi or long-grain rice. Sprinkle herb mixture and fried shallots on top. If you like a hot kick to the dish, add Korean Bi Bim Bap sauce (seasoned red pepper paste). You can also make a side dish of Spicy Cucumbers – Slice cucumbers tossed in some Bi Bim Bap sauce.
NOTE: Below is a photo of the ribs without fried shallots. I forgot to take a plated photo of the chicken version (sorry).