Lemongrass Chicken with Tamarind Sauce and Steamed Jasmine Rice

5 lbs chicken thighs
1 head garlic
cloves sliced
2 Tbsp minced ginger
1 stalk lemongrass
roughly chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
1 bunch cilantro (stems included)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp palm sugar syrup (or brown sugar)
2 Tbsp rice bran oil
zest and juice of 2 limes
4 cups jasmine rice
6 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp tamarind juice (see note)
1 Tbsp palm sugar
finely chopped
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
Chili flakes
to taste
1 Tbsp shallots
finely chopped
1 Tbsp green onion
3 sprigs cilantro
1 Tbsp toasted rice powder
fried shallots
cilantro sprigs and/or Thai basil leaves
For the Chicken
Use a food processor (or mortar and pestle) to make the marinade. First, blend the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and chiles to a fine paste. Then blend in the cilantro and black pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients. Blend in a little extra oil if the marinade looks too thick to spread on the chicken. Coat the chicken thighs with the marinade, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to grill. Preheat grill over *medium* heat – the marinade will burn over high heat. Take care to cook the chicken slowly until just cooked through. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
For the Steamed Rice
Wash rice thoroughly before cooking! Rinse the rice in cold water a couple of times and drain. Add rice, water, and salt to electric rice cooker and turn on. When cooker stops cooking and rice is done, unplug it and wait ten minutes. Open lid and fluff with a fork and hold warm until service.
Make Nam Jim Jeau dipping sauce
Note: I use ready-to-use tamarind juice which comes in a tub, often labeled “tamarind concentrate.” If making your own from tamarind pulp, don’t add too much water to make sure that you get a thick consistency.
Combine tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar; stir until the sugar is dissolved (it will really help to make sure your sugar is very finely chopped). Add all remaining ingredients and stir. If making sauce in advance, don’t add cilantro and green onions until ready to serve.
To Serve
Slice the warm chicken into large pieces and arrange over rice on a warmed platter. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and/or Thai basil if desired. Serve tamarind sauce on the side.