Great for a weeknight dinner, this Vietnamese baked chicken with lime is an easy meal that requires very little active work. Measure, mince, and pour, then let it sit. Once it’s finished marinating, all you have to do is cook it for half an hour. The ginger and garlic are warm and spicy, while the chili garlic sauce has a bit of a kick. The lime adds brightness and a citrusy tang that complements the spicy flavors and cools them down.
The original recipe called for chili garlic paste, palm sugar, and fish sauce. And, it’s true, those ingredients would be more authentic. However, they also violate my own rules about avoiding hard-to-find or one use ingredients. I don’t want to buy an entire bottle or brick of something (like palm sugar) just to have it sit there. And where would I even find palm sugar? Nope.
So, I cheated. I used chili garlic sauce (not paste), swapped brown sugar for palm sugar, and ditched the fish sauce in favor of Worcestershire sauce (which does have some anchovies in it). I also wanted (for personal preference) to avoid all the salt in the fish sauce.
Marinating, even for a short time, helps the chicken absorb lots of flavor. Just don’t let it sit too long or it will get mushy from the citrus.
When you’re ready to start cooking, just pour out the marinade, pop the chicken in the oven, and wait half an hour. Dinner is done!
Vietnamese Baked Chicken with Lime Substitutions and Variations
- add some soy sauce to the marinade
- swap the lime zest for lemongrass (you can buy lemongrass paste, which is easier to find in western markets than the stalks)
- chop up some cilantro and add that to the marinade
- if you do like fish sauce, I’m told Red Boat and Three Crabs are good brands (avoid the Taste of Thai, it’s full of sugar)
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