This Indonesian chicken recipe, best described as chicken in lime and lemongrass sauce, is a delicious, aromatic dish that’s easy to make and requires no “exotic” ingredients.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Indonesian food—and really any savory dish cooked with coconut milk—and this dish does not disappoint. Too bad Indonesia’s luscious cuisine doesn’t make up for their government’s egregious human-rights abuses—but that’s a conversation for a different-focused blog. And we have to first fix that problem in our own country.
Anyway, if you’re at all familiar with Indonesian food, this lime and lemongrass chicken fits right in with the county’s fragrant coconut-simmered dishes, in that the cooking method renders the meat very tender, it cooks fairly slowly, and it’s really easy to make.
Note that this post is really two recipes: the sauce, and cooking the chicken in the sauce.
What you’ll need for the sauce:
- 2 red chilies, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 2 red onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, and very finely chopped
- 1-inch piece of ginger or *galangal, peeled and finely chopped
- 2T oil—peanut is best
- 1t ground turmeric
- 1 cup good-quality coconut milk, or even better, coconut cream
- Juice from 1 lime (about 2T of juice, if you don’t have a lime on hand)
*I know this may fit into the exotic ingredient category for some, but it’s fairly easy to find at your local Asian supermarket. It’s a rhizome common to SE Asian food, and it has a somewhat sharp flavor that mellows with cooking. It’s a relative of ginger, but they are not interchangeable in most recipes—this one, excepted—because of their different flavor profiles. Last, galangal is really tough, so it can’t be grated like ginger. It must be peeled and sliced with a very sharp knife.
What to do for the sauce:
Add the chilies, garlic, onions, lemongrass and ginger or galangal to a food-processor vessel and cover with half the oil. Process into a paste. Add the turmeric and mix it in.
Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the paste over medium heat for 6-7 minutes or until it is aromatic and no longer raw. Gradually stir in the coconut milk, followed by the lime juice.
At this point you could use the sauce for this chicken recipe or another dish, or refrigerate for later.
What you’ll need for the chicken:
- The entire batch of lime and lemongrass sauce you just made
- 0.66 cups chicken stock (I think you could get away with vegetable stock without drastically altering the flavor)
- 1-1.25 lbs boneless chicken thighs, each cut into about four pieces
- 2 lime leaves (optional, if you can’t find them), or a dash of lime juice—but not too much!
- Salt to taste
What to do for the chicken:
If the sauce isn’t still in the saucepan you made it in, add it to one.
Heat the sauce to a gentle simmer, and add the chicken and lime leaves, if using. Cook at a low simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. If you overcook the chicken, though, it will be dry. Be careful.
Season with salt—or not—to taste, and serve hot with rice or Asian egg noodles.