Penang Insights

Sweet lemongrass chicken

Sweetly caramelised with sharp, zesty and tangy lemony flavours from the sugar reductions of onion, lemongrass, brown sugar, coconut water and thickness of the Chinese caramelise dark soy.

I love using lemongrass in my cooking. It is easy to grow in your garden or in a pot with full sun. It is readily available in Asian supermarkets, either fresh on the shelf or available pre-packed frozen whole, sliced or finely chopped in the freezer. The flavour and scent of lemongrass is floral sweet, light and citrusy with a hint of minty. Once cooked, it adds a new dimension to your dish with a sharp distinctive flavour without the bitterness of lemon. You can use it on stir-fry, marinade, braise, soup or curry.

I have previously posted a dish using lemongrass and chicken on a grill pan. I am using a different technique here to cook the lemongrass chicken. It is simple and requires little effort.

Marinade ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 lemongrass stalks
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 large red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

Other ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 large red onions
  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons caramelised dark soy


  1. Chop garlic, spring onion, lemongrass and chilli finely
  2. Slice the red onion thinly
  3. Mix all the chopped ingredients with sugar, salt, fish sauce and sesame oil. Next marinade chicken with the marinated ingredients. Place chicken in an airtight container or cover with food plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or a minimum of 2-3 hours for chicken to absorb the aromatic flavours


  1. Heat a saucepan with one cup vegetable oil. Once oil is warm-hot, place each of the chicken to sear on one side (skin first if you’re using chicken with skin-on) until it’s slightly browned before turning to sear the other side
  2. Once the other side is seared and lightly browned, add the sliced onions and coconut water. Cover with a lid to gently cook the chicken
  3. Once chicken is almost cooked, remove the lid and add caramelised dark soy sauce. Mix through to coat the chicken on both sides. Do not cover the lid again because we want to reduce the sauce until it’s almost dry and caramelised. You can use honey to replace the caramelised dark soy sauce if you prefer
  4. Remove and serve on a bed of fresh vegetables and dressed with some of the caramelised onions and thickened sauce.
Penang Insights
Food, Recipe

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