Ga Xao Xa Ot – Spicy Lemongrass Chicken

Had another go at a Ravenous Couple recipe, this time for a lemongrassy chicken (ga xao xa ot). I like their recipes and their site is an excellent resource, but it seems that I always want to alter things a fair amount to get ’em the way I like ’em.

In this case, when I make this again (and I will), I will scrape off the chunks of lemongrass from the marinade before I cook, and I won’t bother with adding any garlic or lemongrass to the frying oil. Both tallasiandude and I don’t particularly like the texture of the chunks of seasoning on the meat.

So my version wound up being:

cut up package of boneless chicken thigh, and mix in a bowl with:

1 minced shallot
3 cloves minced garlic (maybe mash this up so it’s not in minced chunks)
1 stalk lemongrass, mince the tender white end
1 tbsp red chili pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp (generous, probably more like 3) fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp fresh ground pepper

I started late, so rather than “marinade the chicken for about 2 hours or overnight covered in the fridge” I just did an hour on the counter.

Scrape off the marinade bits from the chicken (maybe even rinse), and if you feel like it strain them out of the marinade liquid so you can add that liquid later with the coconut juice. In a large frying pan heat 1-2 tbs of cooking oil on high heat and add the chicken and dried peppers and sear until outside is browned, and stir occasionally. Add stock/coconut juice, cover and cook until juice is reduced by about half. If it seems like it is going to dry out and burn, just add the liquid sooner and let it stew. It tended to seem cooked when it really wasn’t, so cut open a chunk to check that it’s cooked through.

I served mine with jasmine rice, steamed broccoli, and steamed sugar snap peas. Delicious!

Vietnamese week, days 1-3

I got a late start on Vietnamese week due to the presence of more leftovers than planned which needed eating, but since Tuesday I have made a few things. Using recipes off, a food blog by a pair of Vietnamese-Americans who seem to have pretty good taste.

Day 1: Curry

This one is from a can. It was a busy day, and I’d planned to make a curry-paste curry for a while and had a fridge full of eggplant, pepper, green bean, mushroom, and sweet potato that were about to croak. Sue me. It was delicious.

Day 2: Green Papaya Salad and Xoi Man

Green papaya salad, xoi man sticky rice.

xoi-man-sticky-rice-recipe (my chinese sausage was old and sad so I subbed in scrambled egg)

goi-du-du-green-papaya-salad (felt the need to add green beans, but otherwise just plain with mint and peanut only)

Day 3: Bo Kho

Bo Kho (Vietnamese beef stew) with rice noodles.  Please notice beef tendon front and center, from Snow Farm meat share. Yay, happy tendon! Bonus points for bone marrow steeped in delicious spicy broth.

Served with bún bò Huế rice noodles. Next time I serve this, I am going to cook the rice noodles in the broth so they aren’t quite so bland.  When they sit in the soup a while and take on the flavor, it’s much better.  Also improved by a shot of sriracha along with the lime and herbs and pickled daikon.

aw, HELL YEAH – Vietnamese in Waltham FTW

Remember that Vietnamese place down the street from my house? It is awesome, and I am very happy.

Pho tai gan - noodle soup w/ rare steak & tendon on Twitpic

The pho is really good. Delicious broth, supersoft tendon, tender steak, fresh toppings. Even comes with the wee little Viet chilies, which is awesome even though I never put them in my pho.

Com chien - vietnamese fried rice on Twitpic

The Vietnamese style fried rice is also excellent, with tender shrimp bits and lots of wok hay. They have some homemade chili oil and some chili garlic sauce that are very good on it. Ask for the condiment tray if they don’t bring it automatically.

Bun tom thit - vermicelli w/ grilled shrimp & pork on TwitpicMi hoanh thanh - vietnamese wonton noodle soup w/ chicken broth on Twitpic

The banh mi is good too, though the bread is a bit bland and dry — easily remedied with a drizzle of the green chili vinegar from the condiment tray. Our friends got a bowl of bun and a wonton noodle soup, both excellent.

And they deliver within a 5 mile radius. I can now have someone bring me pho ga on a cold winter night when I am sick. THAT, my friends, is quality of life.

Viet restaurant on Moody St in Waltham! Pho tai gan & com... on Twitpic

Pho & Spice
457 Moody St
Waltham, MA
(781) 788-8899
I will not link to their actual website at because it plays music. SINFUL. But I will make a special exception in their case and continue to patronize them anyway, because did I mention? Pho within walking distance. Noms.

UPDATE: The Bun Bo Hue is really good too. 🙂

why I love living in Waltham

Today I woke up, walked down the street to Antojitos Cafe and had a delicious homemade gordita and an iced coffee, then I went to the farmer’s market. On the way home we stopped to check out the new food court in the basement of the Indian market, and bought a refrigerated coconut and a straw from the nice man with the machete. Cold coconut juice straight from the nut is pretty great on a hot day. And for dinner we are going to check out the — wait for it — new Vietnamese place on Moody St. Yes, my prayers have been answered and if it pans out I will be able to buy pho and banh mi without getting in my car.

eating in montreal

We were in Montreal for a dance weekend, and between the sleep deprivation and the language barrier, we were not going too far afield. Happily the dance venue was smack in the middle of what appeared to be Little Saigon, so we ate pho and banh mi the whole time. The banh mi were particularly good, on skinny crunchy baguettes with a schmear of pate and mayo on each, plus the grilled pork or cold cuts and daikon, carrots and wee hot peppers.

Then finally last night we had a bit of time so I asked one of the Montreal dancers where the really good poutine was to be had. He sent us to La Banquise, and he was not wrong. Yum.

Poutine from la banquise, montreal

Really delicious, crisp fries as a base, with good gravy and squeaky cheese curds on top, and then you can go nuts with variations. T got his with hamburger meat and sauteed onion, which was the best. It’s basically a burger and fries all smushed up together on the plate — can’t go wrong. I had smoked meat which was not as good as you’d hope, and tallasiandude got merguez sausage but what came wasn’t nothing but a hot dog as far as I could tell. So I guess stick with simple toppings and stay away from cured meats. Anyway, absolutely the best possible meal with a beer after two solid days of dancing. Open 24 hrs, too, doing a brisk business in cheesy gravy fries. Hell to the yes.