Palm sugar-griddled chicken with radishes, cucumber and vermicelli rice noodles

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June 27, 2015 by dgarnett2013

Palm sugar-griddled chicken with radishes, cucumber and vermicelli rice noodles: A Bird in the Hand by Diana Henry


For the salad:

  • 1 lemon grass stalk
  • 150ml soy sauce
  • 50ml rice wine
  • 40g root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated or crushed
  • 4½ tab palm sugar or soft light brown sugar
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs
  • 150g rice vermicelli
  • 175g watermelon radish or regular radishes
  • 150g cucumber
  • 2 tabs groundnut oil
  • leaves from a small bunch of mint, torn


For the dressing: 

  • About 2 tab raw rice
  • 1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tab palm sugar or soft light brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp grated root ginger
  • 50ml fish sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes


Remove the coarse outer layers from the lemon grass and trim the top and base. Chop the rest – the softer bit of the lemon grass – as finely as you can. Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, palm sugar, final chopped coriander stalks, half the lime juice and the lemon grass.

Put the chicken in a dish and pour over the marinade, turning to coat. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for about four hours. Bring it to the room temperature before cooking.

To make the dressing, put the rice into a hot frying pan and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, shaking regularly, until pale golden brown. Transfer to a large mortar or spice grinder and set aside to cool. Once cool, pulverise. Put the chilli, palm sugar and garlic into a mortar and crush until you almost have a paste. Pound in the root ginger, then gradually add the fish sauce and lime juice and stir in the toasted rice.

Put the rice vermicelli into just-boiled water and leave it for four minutes, then drain really well, run cold water through them and leave to drain and cool.

If you have found watermelon radish, peel off the skin then, using a small sharp knife, shave off strips of it in furls. You should end up with something that looks like pink pencil shavings. Or just finely slice regular radishes and the cucumber. Toss the cold noodles with the cucumber, radish, the rest of the lime juice, the oil, and most of the mint.

Heat a griddle pan. Shaking the excess marinade off the chicken, cook each piece on the hot griddle on both sides, start gin on a medium-high heat to get a good colour, then reducing the heat to cook the chicken through.

Divide the salad between four shallow bowls or one large one. Put the chicken on top and scatter with the rest of the mint. Spoon on a little dressing and offer the rest in a bowl.

Made the day of the Corpus Christi picnic.


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