Hot and Spicy Chicken with Lemon Grass

         Yield: 4 Servings
Categories: Poultry, Vietnamese, Spicy

1 ts Cornstarch 3 tb Water 1 lb Chicken breast*; skinless, -boneless, sliced 1/4" thick -& 1-1/2" long 3 tb Vegetable oil 10 Whole dried chiles; or to -taste, (optional) 1/4 c Minced lemon grass; -preferably fresh 1 tb Minced garlic 2 tb Sugar 1 ts Ground chili paste; and /or -1 small fresh red chili, -thinly sliced 1/2 c Homemade unsalted or canned -low-sodium chicken stock 1 tb Fish sauce 1/4 ts Salt 1/2 Yellow onion; sliced into -thin wedges 1 c Julienned carrots; blanched -and shocked in ice water Fresh cilantro sprigs for -garnish * You may substitute a firm, white-flesh fish such as swordfish, tofu or pork for the chicken. Combine cornstarch and water in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add the chicken, making sure it is well coated. Heat the oil in a nonstick fry pan over low heat. Add the dried chiles and cook until they puff up and are slightly brown (not black), about 10 seconds. Remove, drain on paper towels, and set aside. Increase the heat to high and add the lemon grass, garlic, sugar, chili paste, and fresh chili until fragrant, about 1 minute. (The sauce is exquisite when the sugar is slightly caramelized.) Add the chicken, and using chopsticks or a spatula, stir to separate. Cook until chicken begins to turn opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat if the pan starts to burn. Add the chicken stock, fish sauce, salt, onion and carrots and continue cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the reserved chilies, garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately with rice. Notes: The technique of creating aromatics is particularly important in this recipe. Once the pan is sizzling hot, add the seasonings. Stir often to extract the flavors and to prevent burning. If the fire is too hot, simply slide the pan to an empty burner to cool a bit. If the seasonings burn, start over from scratch or the dish will taste bitter. From: "The Best of Vietnamese and Thai Cooking" by Mai Pham : Published by Prima Publishing, 1996 : As Heard on The World, Thursday, June 25, 1998