To compliment the Lemongrass Chicken bowls, I made a batch of pickled daikon (Japanese radish) and carrot. The pickles are the perfect garnish for any type of Vietnamese food – banh mi sandwiches, egg rolls, meat dishes – you name it!
I got the recipe from New York Times. The recipe will make about 3 cups of pickles, so you can divide the recipe if you don’t foresee needing THAT much garnish. I don’t think you’ll regret making the full batch though!
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1pound daikon radish, no larger than 2 inches in diameter, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
2teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 ¼cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup warm water
Place carrot and daikon in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and 2 teaspoons sugar. Knead vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling water from them (this will keep them crisp). Stop kneading when vegetables have lost about 1/4 of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return vegetables to bowl, or transfer to a glass container for longer storage.
In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar and 1 cup lukewarm water, and stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over vegetables. Let marinate at least 1 hour before eating, or refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Remove vegetables from liquid before using.
As this crazy summer heat wears on, I’ve found myself really wanting Vietnamese food. Maybe not so much a hot bowl of pho, but a nice rice noodle (bún) bowl is so refreshing on hot days. I love the many fresh herbs and cold vegetables (fresh and pickled together!) that compliment deliciously grilled meats and cold rice noodles. Nong La is my go-to for a nice pork bún bowl, and their egg rolls are to die for. I don’t dare try and recreate their pork bowl, but I did find a nice recipe for a lemongrass chicken on the interwebs. Here’s the recipe as adapted from Bon Appetit. BA’s original recipe calls for chicken breasts which you have to pound to eliminate dryness, but I used chicken thighs since they tend to have more flavor and frankly are much harder to dry out.
Process lemongrass, shallot, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in a food processor to a fine paste.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in a resealable plastic bag or container. Add lemongrass mixture; chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days ahead).
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Remove chicken from marinade, scraping off excess (this is important!), and cook until golden brown, 5-7 minutes; turn and cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. You can also throw these on a grill if you can stand the heat!
Serve chicken with lime wedges for squeezing over.
NOTE: If you’re doing whole-30, you can substitute the brown sugar for orange juice. However, the nice thing about the sugar is that it will make sure you get a nice char on the chicken once you cook it.
Kevin and I recently discovered GABA sprouted brown rice (unpolished brown rice that has been allowed to germinate to improve the flavor and texture and increase levels of nutrients such as γ-aminobutyric acid), and we LOVE it despite the longer preparation requirements. To maximize the nutrient factor and flavor to the meal, I sliced and sauteed a leek in a wee bit of soy sauce and tossed it with a batch of GABA rice in chicken broth in lieu of traditional rice vermicelli noodles. Together the lemongrass chicken, Pickled Daikon and Carrot, freshly shredded lettuce, Persian cucumber, cilantro, green onion, and crushed toasted peanuts (oops, not pictured), it was the perfectly balanced healthy dinner!