Exceedingly flavour packed lemongrass chicken on vermicelli noodles, with fresh lemongrass, ginger, lime and crisp veggies will awaken your taste buds!
This tantalizingly delicious dish is quite literally, the BEST lemongrass chicken you’ll ever taste! The earthy, citrus-like freshness combined with the savoury flavours of the sauce, makes this dish THE BOMB! It has become famous around our family and friends. My husband and children request it regularly, including for special birthday meals! It is one of those dishes that makes everyone cheer when they find out it is on the dinner menu! Now that’s what you want to hear after working hard in the kitchen right?! This Lemongrass Chicken on Vermicelli is sure to become a staple in your recipe box! This dish is not only gluten, egg, corn, rice and additive free, it’s is dairy free too! It is a must try!
Ingredients in The BEST Lemongrass Chicken on Vermicelli
This list may look long…but I assure you it is well worth it! I also have some time saving tips below that will make this meal A LOT easier to make. This dish has such a beautifully colourful palette due to all of the fresh veggies. I’ve broken the ingredients into sections so it’s easier to follow.
This marinade is absolutely fantastic! It’ll have all of the neighbours looking over the fence and asking “What’s for dinner?” if you cook this outside on the BBQ.
is a key ingredient that lends an incredible earthy, citrus-like aroma and fresh flavour to this dish. It can be very hard to cut so make sure you have a sharp knife! Some people recommend “bruising” (bending) the lemongrass to release the flavour.
- Asian Fish Sauce:
Some people worry about the pungent smell of fish sauce when they open it. It is truly a MUST ingredient. I promise you, once cooked it doesn’t taste fishy at all and gives a amazing depth of flavour. I use Squid brand. It is free from additives I can’t pronounce. Make sure you check the label as many brands have additives. You can find Squid brand in Calgary at Superstore and TnT market. If you can’t eat fish, you can substitute with a little more tamari but the flavour will be less complex.
- Gluten Free Tamari:
is a great gluten free alternative to soy sauce. It has all the flavour of soy sauce, in fact I like the flavour MUCH more, and comes in low-sodium as well. My favourite is San-J brand which you can find at most grocery and health stores. However, it does contain Soy. If you need a gluten and soy free option, try coconut aminos (usually made from just coconut sap & sea salt).
- Maple Syrup:
is a key ingredient and you absolutely must use real pure maple syrup! If you can’t find maple syrup or are looking for a substitute you can use cane sugar.
- Fresh Lemon Juice:
makes a big difference in the freshness of this dish and helps balance out the flavours.
A absolute must for flavour! I like to use organic farmers market garlic as the flavour is so much better and tastes just like the garlic I used to grow in my garden.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
for moisture and a boost of heart healthy fats. I like this brand which I get at Costco.
- Chicken Breast:
I like to use boneless, skinless.
This shallot oil is not absolutely necessary, but trust me, you won’t regret the little bit of extra work for the immense flavour it adds!
are small onions with a mild, light almost delicate flavour. They can be found in most groceries stores, including Superstore (Loblaws) and TnT market.
- Avocado Oil:
is a nice, unrefined, light oil that’s almost creamy like an avocado and compliments the shallots.
Add a nice crunch and loads of flavour with lots of healthy fresh veggies.
- Bean sprouts (aka mung beans)
- Fresh Thai Basil or Mint
- Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts (Omit for Nut-Free):
I personally LOVE adding the peanuts to this dish. But, if you can’t eat peanuts simply omit. Trust me, it is still amazingly delicious without it. Make sure you check the ingredients in your peanuts. Crazy enough a lot of brands add additives. Seriously? This is my pet peeve! It should simply be dry roasted peanuts and maybe salt if you want salted. No need for all of that junk right?
Sauce (Our version of Nuoc Cham – Vietnamese chilli garlic sauce)
Blend together to create the most incredible addition to this amazing Lemongrass Chicken dish! The carrots get wonderfully pickled in the sauce if you make it when you make the chicken marinade.
- Fresh Lime Juice
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Asian Fish Sauce
- Red Thai Chillies
How to make The BEST Lemongrass Chicken on Vermicelli
1. To prepare LEMONGRASS CHICKEN
Trim lemongrass about 2-3 inches from the base and remove outer leaves. Discard. Cut remaining lemongrass into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to blender (or food processor) and blend to a hairlike texture.
Add remaining ingredients to (excluding chicken). Blend on medium to high until achieve a smooth texture. You’ll still have some hairlike texture from the lemongrass. That’s ok. If you or your family don’t like the hairlike texture, simply bruise (bend) the lemongrass several times, chop and place into the marinade after its been blended. You can then remove it later. It will still have the flavour of the lemongrass just not as potent.
Prep the Chicken:
Remove tenderloins from chicken breasts. I like to use kitchen shears for this step. You can either pound the rest of the chicken breast to about 1/8 inch thick. Or you can cut into 1 inch cubes to grill on the BBQ on skewers. I prefer to BBQ when the weather allows.
Marinate Lemongrass Chicken
Add pounded or cubed chicken and tenderloins to the marinade and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight (overnight is the best). I often double the chicken marinade and chicken breasts and freeze half of it at this point for a future meal!
Cook Lemongrass Chicken
If using BBQ, place chicken cubes on skewers. Preheat BBQ to 450 degrees. Place skewers on BBQ. Sear each of the four sides for 3-4 minutes. Watch closely to ensure chicken doesn’t burn. Remove from grill and tent chicken skewers under foil for at least 10 minutes while you finish preparing the meal.
If cooking chicken on the stovetop, heat a grill over medium heat and place chicken on a grill or brush a grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Once hot, sear chicken 1-2 minutes per side to brown then turn heat down to medium and continue to cook on medium for 1-2 minutes per side.
Remove from heat and tent under foil for 10 minutes while you finish preparing the meal.
Remember that sugar burns at high heat, that includes maple syrup. So make sure to watch the chicken browns and doesn’t burn.
2. To prepare SHALLOT OIL
Heat avocado oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots. Cover with splatter screen if you have one. Cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Stir often to turn. Do NOT walk away from the shallots. They may seem to not be browning, but then suddenly they start and very quickly will burn. You may need to adjust the heat as needed.
Once shallots are browned, strain the shallot mixture through a colander or sieve over a bowl. Reserve the oil. Set shallots aside.
3. To prepare FRESH LIME SAUCE
Roll limes on the counter to soften and get more juice. Squeeze fresh limes into a medium bowl. A lime press helps with this step. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together. Put chillies on the side if you have children who aren’t used to spicy food or adults who’d like to control the spice level. 1/2 a chilli is a mild hotness level, 1 chilli is medium, and 2 is quite spicy! I add some of the seeds as I like it hot but if you don’t or aren’t sure, try starting off without any seeds and 1/2 a chilli and go from there. You can always add more hotness but once you add it you can’t take it away!
4. To prepare VERMICELLI
Place desired amount of vermicelli into a bowl (I usually add one clump of dried noodles per person). Cover with boiling water and let stand for 3 minutes. Do not over cook the noodles as they will begin to fall apart and get gooey (gross!) Drain. Combine noodles with shallot oil, gently stir with tongues and set aside.
5. To ASSEMBLE
Place desired amount of noodles in each of 6 bowls. Top each bowl of noodles with chicken, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts (mung beans), lettuce, basil/mint, fried shallots, peanuts & red chillies (if desired). Top each bowl with desired amount of sauce (usually about 2-4 Tbsp -will suffice) and ENJOY!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Lemongrass? And where can I find it?
Lemongrass is a type of tall grass that is native to Asia, Australia and Africa used all over the world to make teas, food and has many household purposes including insect repellent.
What to look for when buying Lemongrass:
Look for firm stalks that are pale yellow on the lower stalk and light green on the upper. Try to avoid stalks that have brown outer leaves.
Where to find Lemongrass:
If you’re from a cold climate like I am in Calgary, Canada, lemongrass can sometimes be hard to find! You can usually find it at TnT Market and Superstore (Loblaws). Gourmet Garden makes pre-made lemongrass paste that you can find at many grocery stores in the produce section. This works great, however, it has a few additives in it and xanthan gum (which is made from corn). Bart Infusions also makes a lemongrass paste, however, it contains corn flour.
How to store Lemongrass & can I freeze it?
Since my family loves this dish SO MUCH, I often buy lemongrass when I find it and it looks fresh, then freeze it. As with freezing anything, some of its aroma and freshness will be lost, but generally it freezes well for a few weeks and can be cut easier once frozen. I figure this is still better than eating the paste form that contains corn and additives!
What’s the difference between a shallot and a scallion?
If you’ve never used shallots before, you are in for a treat! Shallots are a small onion with a light, almost delicate flavour. Shallots are fully grown onions that grow like garlic as a bulb that divides. Not to be confused with scallions (or green onions) that are harvested before the base of the onion matures into a bulb. They are very different in appearance and flavour! Scallions are long with white base and green top, whereas shallots have a purply brown paper-like skin with a garlicky flavour. You can use scallions (green onions) on top of this dish. But, I wouldn’t substitute them for the shallots in the shallot oil.
The BEST Time Saving Tips!
This dish can be time consuming if you’re working alone in the kitchen! So bring on the kitchen helpers and use these time saving tips!
- Enlist HELP: start “Baking your way around the world” with my family and get your children or loved ones involved in the food prep. Cooking together can be SO much fun and a great way to bond! Wouldn’t it be great if kids could leave home with skills in the kitchen! Plus, I want to be able to go to my kids houses for a delectable meal when I’m retired!
- Use a FOOD PROCESSOR: to shred the carrots & slice the cucumbers. This was a game changer once I started doing this! The time to prepare this meal is drastically decreased by using a food processor!
- DOUBLE, DOUBLE: I almost always make ahead a whole flat of chicken breasts when I prep this meal. I then freeze half of lemongrass chicken already marinated. Trust me and PLEASE try this! You’ll be so thrilled you did.
Can I make this dish vegetarian?
Yes! Use Tofu in the chicken marinade or add other fresh veggies and omit the chicken.
Can I use shrimp / prawns? What about fish?
Yes! This marinade is lovely on prawns or shrimp. To make this dish with prawns or shrimp, just grill for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side until done. I’ve never tried this marinade on fish, so if you try it, please let me know how it works out!
Let’s talk heat! Do I have to make it spicy?
I like it HOT!
I LOVE spicy! Seriously I do! When my husband Mike and I travelled to Asia, our love of spicy food really took off. However, not everyone loves spice like we do! We like to add the Red Thai Chillies to the sauce and put some chopped ones on top as well.
I just want a little kick!
If you’re new to hot chillies, or just want a little kick, you can add a whole pepper without cutting it at all to just add a little taste of spice. Most of the intense heat comes from the seeds of the pepper. So, to decrease the heat a little, you can remove the seeds and then chop a little (or a lot) of the pepper and add to the sauce or as a topping. This way you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like!
I don’t want ANY heat!
For kids or those who don’t like heat, You can omit the peppers all together, like I do for my daughter.
I can’t find fresh Red Thai Chillies!
If you can’t find Red Thai Chillies, you can also get them dried and add a whole one to the sauce.
What do I do with the leftovers?
First of all…there won’t be much leftover! This is why I always double the chicken marinade. I find that 1/2 a flat of chicken is enough for 2 meals for 4-6 people (that’s including lunches for the next day)! Or you can save the left overs and have dinner for 2 nights in a row!
For lunches: simply layer left over rice vermicelli, sliced chicken, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce and Thai basil. Omit the peanuts if going to a peanut free facility like most schools. Make sure to pack the sauce on the side so your lunch doesn’t end up soggy.
Is it necessary to pound the chicken?
It is not absolutely necessary to pound the chicken. Instead you can simply marinate the chicken breasts, cook, then slice after resting. However, I find the increased surface area after pounding the chicken allows the marinade to reach more of the chicken, increasing it’s flavour. I find it also tenderizes the chicken quite perfectly. If you plan to grill the chicken on the BBQ, I recommend chopping it into 1″ cubes then marinating.
- 6-8 large Stalks Fresh Lemongrass
- 4 tsp Asian Fish Sauce I use Squid brand
- 4 ½ tsp Tamari I use San-J brand
- 4 tsp Maple Syrup
- 2 cloves Minced Garlic Organic is best
- 2 tsp Fresh Ginger grated fine
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- ¼ cup Avocado Oil Or other mild flavoured cooking oil
- ¾ cup Shallots Finely chopped. About 2-3 shallots
FRESH LIME SAUCE
- 1 cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice About 9-10 limes
- ¾ cup Shredded Carrot
- ⅓ cup Maple Syrup
- ¼ cup Asian Fish Sauce
- 1-2 cloves Minced Garlic
- ½ to 2 Thai Red Chilli Peppers Seeded & minced or sliced
- 2 cups Shredded Carrot
- 1-2 Cucumber Halved lengthwise, seeded & thinly sliced
- 2 cups Fresh Mung Beans (Bean Sprouts)
- 1 cup Romaine Lettuce Or any other crunchy lettuce
- 3-5 sprigs Fresh Thai Basil or Mint
- 1 package Vermicelli (Bihoon) I use Wai Wai brand (it's made with rice & water) OR try bean version for rice free.
- ½ cup Unsalted Dry Roasted Peanuts *Optional but delicious
To prepare LEMONGRASS CHICKEN
- Trim lemongrass about 2-3 inches from the base and remove outer leaves. Discard. Cut remaining lemongrass into 1/2 inch pieces. Add to blender (or food processor) and blend to a hairlike texture.
- Add remaining ingredients to (excluding chicken). Blend on medium to high until achieve a smooth texture.
- Remove tenderloins from chicken breasts. Pound the rest of the chicken breast to about 1/8 inch thick (stovetop method) or cut into 1 inch cubes (BBQ method).
- Add pounded or cubed chicken and tenderloins to the marinade and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
- If using BBQ method, place chicken cubes on skewers. Preheat BBQ to 450 degrees. Place skewers on BBQ. Sear each of the four sides for 3-4 minutes. Remove from grill and tent chicken skewers under foil for at least 10 minutes.
- If cooking chicken on the stovetop, brush pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear chicken 1-2 minutes per side to brown. Turn heat down to medium and continue to cook on medium for 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and tent under foil for 10 minutes.
To prepare SHALLOT OIL
- Heat avocado oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots & cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Stir often to turn. Adjust the heat as needed.
- Strain the shallot mixture through a colander or sieve over a bowl. Reserve the oil. Set shallots aside.
To prepare FRESH LIME SAUCE
- Roll limes on the counter to soften and get more juice. Squeeze fresh limes into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together. Add chopped chillies to desired heat (optional).
To prepare VERMICELLI
- Place vermicelli into a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for 3 minutes. Drain. Combine noodles with shallot oil and set aside.
- Place 3/4 cup noodle mixture in each bowl. Top noodles with chicken, carrot, cucumber, bean sprouts (mung beans), lettuce, basil/mint, fried shallots, peanuts & red chillies (if desired). Top each bowl with sauce and ENJOY!