This is one of our most favorite dishes in the Vietnamese Cuisine. I got to learn and taste some of the Vietnamese dishes in Arkansas. Many of the Asians live in Fort Smith are Vietnamese, so there are many Vietnamese restaurants in this small town but they are not so good.
My husband loves Vietnamese food especially their summer rolls and soupy dishes. I do have some Vietnamese friends here and got to understand the art of cooking Vietnamese but just what we like.
2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
1½ tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh/frozen/store-ready lime juice
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons raw sugar
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, white portion only, cut into two pieces each, crushed
In a large mixing glass bowl (round/oblong/square shape) add all the above ingredients and set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours (I preferred overnight) in the refrigerator.
Hours later, heat a grilling/sauté/frying pan with olive oil over medium heat and add the marinated chicken thighs without the lemongrass (removed the lemongrass pieces as much as if possible) and grill.
Cook the chicken thighs on each side until dark brown making sure the chicken thighs is cooked through, roughly 5-8 minutes. Transfer the grilled chicken thighs to a cutting board and making sure no visible lemongrass pieces are still intact. Set aside and rest for 5 minutes before thinly sliced.
Vermicelli (Rice Noodles) Base
325g dried vermicelli, according to manufacturer’s instruction or soak the dried vermicelli in hot water for 3-4 minutes, drained and rinse under running cold water.
6 cups iceberg/romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped (I used romaine lettuce)
4 cups bean sprouts
3 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
2 cups mint leaves, wash well
4 stalks green onion, white part only, sliced
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted skinless peanuts
4 whole mini cucumbers cut to bite size
Cilantro leaves (optional)
Lime wedges (optional)
Green chili/jalapeno slices (optional)
Nuoc Cham Sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled and press through a garlic press
2 red colored bird’s-eye chilies, very finely chopped
3½ tablespoons raw sugar
5½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc cham)
½ cup warm water
In a large glass/porcelain jar/container add all the Nuoc Cham ingredients and mix well until raw sugar dissolved. Season accordingly to your desire taste for the sweetness or sourness or hotness. Set aside for dressing.
Method for Assembling:
Place some cooked vermicelli noodles in a serving soup/salad bowl (medium/large size). Top each side with a portion of sliced cucumbers, julienned carrots, mixture of vegetable and herbs. Place a small portion of the grilled chicken thigh slices on top of the bed of vegetable and herbs. Sprinkle some chopped roasted peanuts. Drizzle about 3-4 tablespoons Nuoc Cham sauce all over the prepared ingredients or you may place in a small sauce cup to be accompanied with the prepared bowl.