Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Rice (Com Ga Nuong) served with all the fixings never disappoints. An added bonus - this recipe works great in an air fryer.
Cơm Gà Nướng, which translates to Grilled Chicken with Rice, is a popular Vietnamese dish that is a great alternative to Cơm Sườn Nướng (Grilled Pork Chops with Rice). Com Ga Nuong is usually made with chicken thighs, with or without the bone. It's packed with umami-rich flavors from the marinade with aromatic lemongrass and garlic. Balanced with a bit of brown sugar, it creates a caramelized skin that is to die for. I’ve included steps on how to grill the chicken along with a quick and easy air fryer method.
This recipe is extremely versatile. Once you know how to make Vietnamese Grilled Chicken, you can easily create other dishes just by changing up the carb. If you swap out rice for broken rice, you have Com Tam Ga Nuong. For noodle lovers, cook up some rice noodles and you have Bun Ga Nuong or Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Rice Vermicelli, my favorite! As mentioned earlier, the Vietnamese Chicken marinade will also work for pork chops to make Com Suon Nuong.
Preparing Lemongrass for Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
If you have never used lemongrass before, now is a great time to add it to your repertoire. It adds such a unique, bright and fresh lemony flavor to a dish that is irreplaceable. As a whole, lemongrass is rather tough and fibrous. The upper grassy portion is trimmed away, while the thick lower part of the stalk, which has the most flavor, is used for cooking.
For lemongrass to be edible, it needs to be minced very finely. To chop by hand, start by slicing cross sections as thinly as possible, creating little discs. Then use your knife and chop away (much like mincing garlic) until you have very finely minced lemongrass. If you prefer to use a food processor, pre-chop into ¼ inch slices and pulse it a few times until you reach a sawdust-like consistency. While a food processor minimizes the work and time, I prefer hand chopping since it creates more uniform pieces.
Which Cut of Chicken Works Best for Com Ga Nuong?
By far my favorite cut to use for Vietnamese Grilled Chicken are bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on. The bone adds natural sweetness and flavor to the meat while the skin retains moisture and adds another layer of yumminess. The same is true for chicken wings. In fact, chicken wings are another great option for this dish. The marinade and cook time is much shorter which make them ideal for parties or large gatherings.
Marinating the Chicken for Com Ga Nuong
This recipe consists of a simple marinade and a simple technique. Start by mixing the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Mix it well until the sugar has completely dissolved. Place the chicken in a large food storage bag and pour in the marinade. Close the bag and give the chicken a good massage until all the pieces are covered in marinade.
Once the chicken is well coated, add the lemongrass, garlic and shallots to the bag and massage well to evenly distribute the aromatics. A valuable tip my mom taught me was to always add lemongrass after the chicken has been coated with marinade. If you mix lemongrass directly into the marinade, it'll suck it all up and leave little left for the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate at least overnight; 2-3 days is preferred.
Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Chicken is typically served with rice, pickled carrots and daikon with a side of Nuoc Cham (prepared fish sauce) that gets drizzled over the rice. For a protein boost, top it off with a perfectly fried egg. The scallions in the photo are made by frying chopped green onions in a bit of oil for 30-45 seconds.
- 1 lb chicken thighs, boneless, skin-on
- 2-3 stalks of lemongrass, finely minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- 4 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon high smoke point oil, such as peanut, avocado, grapeseed, canola, etc.
- Combine all the MARINADE ingredients in a bowl. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Place the chicken in a large food storage bag or a bowl and pour in the marinade. Massage the meat until all the pieces are well coated with marinade.
- Add the aromatics (lemongrass, garlic and shallots). Mix well until the aromatics are evenly distributed.
- Refrigerate and allow to marinate at least overnight. 2-3 days is preferred.
- Place the chicken skin side down on the grill over medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes until the skin turns a nice golden color.
- Flip it over and cook meat side down until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Air fry the chicken skin side up at 350°F for 10 minutes.
- Flip the chicken and air fry for another 5 minutes with the skin side down.
- Flip one more time so it's skin side up and air fry for another 5 minutes. This helps create more caramelization on the skin.