I adore Southeast Asian flavours, such as those in this easy weeknight oven baked Vietnamese chicken. The balance between sweet, sour, salty and spicy is positively addictive. Plus, at its base, Vietnamese food is earthy and accessible — a cuisine for all people and all seasons. What’s not to like?
My husband introduced me to Vietnamese food when we first met, over 20 years ago. At the time, Vietnamese cuisine seemed exotic. I had no idea what to expect. Nonetheless, it was love at first bite.
Since that time, Vietnamese cuisine has become an addiction. I love the balance of vibrant flavours — sweet, salty, spicy, sour — paired with fresh herbs and vegetables.
It is exquisite. If you’ve never tried Vietnamese cuisine before, it is not to be missed. Imagine an explosion of flavour that satisfies all of your senses. That is the ideal Vietnamese meal.
This particular Vietnamese chicken recipe would be delicious on the grill. However, if time gets away from you or rain hits on the very day you planned your barbecue, it is also very tasty made the oven. Of course, the oven doesn’t give you that smokey, charcoal flavour. However, you can achieve very nice results in the oven, particularly if you take the time to throw the chicken under the broiler for an additional few minutes to crisp and brown it a bit before serving.
Either way, the tartness of the lime and the saltiness of the fish sauce will dance in your mouth. If you use the chili, there will be a little, satisfying bit of heat at the back of each bite. Finally, the fresh coriander adds an earthy freshness which contrasts beautifully with the charred meat.
Making a Meal of It
Personally, I like to serve this recipe with a mountain of steamed rice, quick cucumber pickles, nuoc cham, and a load of fresh coriander. However, sweet chili sauce would be a lovely accompaniment, as would a heap of french fries or a gorgeous tossed salad. So, you don’t have to be a purist. This is every day food for every day people. Eat it with the sides and salads your family likes best.
Whatever sides you choose, I hope your family enjoys this vibrant dish as much as mine does.
Zippy Vietnamese Chicken
This delicious Vietnamese style chicken hits all the right notes -- sweet, sour, spicy, salty. It would be even better on the grill. However, for a weeknight version, it can easily be prepared in the oven.
- 2 limes, juice of (about 1/3 cup)
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic (about 8 cloves)
- 3 Thai red chilies (optional)
- 16 chicken pieces (preferably dark meat)
- 1 bunch fresh coriander, for serving
- Step 1 Place all ingredients, except chicken and fresh coriander, in a blender jug. Blend on high speed until marinade ingredients are thoroughly combined and sugar is dissolved.
- Step 2 Toss chicken pieces with marinade. Place in a sealed container in the refrigerator and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Step 3 Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with foil and arrange chicken on tray. Bake for 45 minutes, or until skin is crisp and brown and juices run clear.
- Step 4 Serve immediately, garnished with fresh coriander sprigs.