These chicken wings are marinated overnight in a quick to prepare Vietnamese lemongrass marinade that is packed full of flavour, then grilled to perfection on the BBQ. You can also cook them in the oven, but I am partial to the charcoal flavours!
I may be overloading on Vietnamese dishes this week, having just shared Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls a couple of days ago. But I’m not going to apologise because it’s one of my favourite cuisines and this dish epitomises what my blog is all about – sharing easy to make, amazing food from around the world.
The marinade for these wings is a classic base for many Vietnamese dishes and is a great balance of sweet, salty, spicy and tang that epitomises the food of this cuisine. Lemongrass is a herb that is commonly used in many Vietnamese dishes. It has a very unique smell, lemony but with a distinct earthiness and turns an otherwise ordinary marinade into something really special.
A great tip I learnt from a Vietnamese friend is to stock up on frozen lemongrass which you can get from large Asian grocery stores. I didn’t think that would be “acceptable” but apparently it is! This was a great tip I used for years when I had to make the trek to Asian grocery stores just to get lemongrass. Nowadays lemongrass is sold in large grocery stores, and surprisingly good value too (for the Aussie readers, Harris Farms is my tip, usually about $1.00 a stalk).
Lemongrass is quite tough, so you need to either cut it into pieces large enough to pick out later after you have infused the marinade with the flavours, or finely chop it. Frozen lemongrass usually comes finely chopped which is fine to use for this recipe instead of the slices as per the recipe directions.
If you can’t find lemongrass, substituting with just lemon won’t do it I’m afraid. You simply won’t get the “Vietnamese” flavour in this without it, it will end up being more of a Thai flavour. If you don’t have lemongrass but still really want to try this, add the zest of 1 lime to the marinade and call it Thai Chicken Wings!
I cooked this on the outdoor grill because I really love the charcoal flavour. However, it can also be cooked in the oven so I’ve provided directions for both. A great summer grilling recipe to add to your rotation!
- 2lb / 1kg chicken wings, cut into wingettes and drumettes
- Oil for grilling
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ¼ cup lime juice (2 to 3 limes)
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped
- Coriander leaves
- Bruise the lemongrass using the side of your knife (or a pestle). Slice the white part only into 0.5cm / ¼" slices, thick enough to pick off later if any stick to the wings.
- Combine lemongrass with the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well.
- Combine marinade with wings in a ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Massage marinade into the wings to evenly disperse.
- Marinate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
- When ready to cook, pour the wings and marinade into a large bowl.
- Lightly oil the grill and preheat on medium low. The grill side cooks the wings more evenly than the hotplate side.
- Remove wings from marinade and grill until cooked through. Do not cook on a high heat otherwise the sugar will burn before the inside of the wings are cooked.
- Just before the wings are ready, remove the wings from the grill and put them back into the bowl and toss in the marinade, then put back on the BBQ and sear quickly on both sides.
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F and put the rack in the top part of the oven.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper and place a rack on it.
- Remove wings from the marinade and spread out over the rack.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top side is golden brown, then turn the wings and baste.
- Return to oven for another 10 to 15 minutes until the wings are a dark golden brown.
- Turn again, baste and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Serve garnished with coriander leaves and chilli slices (optional).
2. Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. There really is not substitute for it in this recipe.
3. When cooking these on the BBQ, I toss the wings in the marinade just before they are cooked rather than basting them because if you baste them, the skin will burn too much (because of the sugar in the marinade).