Recently I found out there are people who actually read this blog. I would have never known but I have been hearing numerous complaints for not blogging. The first ‘lack of blog’ comments came from close friends. Like your parents must tell you you’re pretty or handsome these people are somewhat obligated to read my blog. Then, slowly, friends were passing on lack of blog commentary from their friends and then with more frequency comments from friends of friends and a few acquaintances. I explained my lack of blog was due to winter photography issues to which the response was usually a blank stare. I’m not saying I’m Orangette or Smitten Kitchen popular but I’m certainly flattered that you, whoever you are, are reading this and hope you are at least mildly entertained or informed by it.
The blog situation reached emergency status this Friday. Taking things in to their own hands, our son and my friend Jayme decided it was time to blog. They commandeered my phone and photographed every dinner item. They went so far as to plate and style the food and the food’s surroundings. And I think Jayme may have solved the winter photography issue. This was not a meal I had planned to blog about and, more importantly, I had not generated recipes for most of it. I can’t blog about it if it cannot be accurately recreated, which apparently is a good rule of thumb since people actually read this thing. So, because I was forced to blog, I don’t have a real back story for this recipe. In fact it’s not even my recipe, Jim is the one who actually cooks it and I didn't even take the picture of it.
This recipe came about as a result of a lot of travel. We have recently taken several week long trips. Prior to leaving we felt it necessary to empty out the fridge and make do with whatever scraps are floating around the vegetable drawer. In April we were headed to California for a week. The night before departing our fridge contained 2 carrots, 3 spring onions and a couple stalks of asparagus and surely some anemic limes and lemons that had already been stripped of their zest. When Jim asked ‘What’s for dinner?’ I said ‘Well based on what’s in the fridge I know we’re having a rice noodle salad and we have 2 chicken thighs. Can you find a way to Vietnamese the chicken?’ And he did and we’ve been making it almost every week we’ve been at home since.
Jim found the original recipe on epicurious.com; we’ve slightly changed it, not much though. It’s really delicious, almost addictive and very easy. You should make it too.
Vietnamese Chicken - Serves 2-4
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 large shallots chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves minced
1 Tbsp. natural sugar
2 Tsp. Chinese 5 spice powder
2 star anise pods ground in a spice mill (I use a coffee grinder)
4 chicken thighs
Combine the first 8 ingredients, then pour the marinade over the chicken thighs and marinate 1-5 hours. Be sure to rotate the chicken thighs during the marinading process. Prepare a grill for direct/indirect heat. Jim does this by making a semi-circle around the outer edge of the grill with the charcoal. When the grill is hot (a 3 count with your hand over the grill) add the wood chunks directly over the hot coals. Sear the chicken thighs skin side down over the high heat for about 4-5 minutes until they are browned and somewhat crispy. (Or as Jim says ‘Until they look right.’) Turn the thighs over and cook skin side up for another 2 minutes over the high heat, then move them to the cooler side of the grill, but still near the coals for indirect heat, put the grill lid on and cook for about 20 minutes. They are done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.