Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken (Bun Ga Nuong) is one of my signature dishes! Vermicelli noodles topped with fresh vegetables and herbs, an incredible lemongrass marinated chicken and drizzled with Nuoc Cham, the chilli garlic sauce that’s served with everything in Vietnam!
Easy enough for midweek meals, and a sensational CHEAP meal idea for large groups! Either cook the chicken in large batches on the BBQ, or even bake them, and put out all the toppings in bowls for people to help themselves!
Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken
This is a recipe that has many fond memories associated with it because it’s one of my signature recipes that I make as a meal for large groups. Other than how delicious it is (and the Vietnamese lemongrass marinade really is exceptional!), here’s why it’s one of my all time favourite recipes:
- it’s cheap and simple to make
- can be fully prepared ahead (including the noodles and chopping the vegetables)
- it’s gluten free (cater for dietary requirements)
- versatile – use the same marinade for tofu, prawns/shrimp, fish, other meats
- easy to serve a crowd – chicken can be cooked in large batches on the BBQ, or even baked
- no assembly – lay all the components out on the table for people to help themselves
Camping, on boats, weekends away, hen’s night – these Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken has made an appearance at many events!
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
The entire Vietnamese noodle bowl as a whole is so delicious, but I have to say that the Lemongrass Chicken is the stand out. The marinade is fantastic. The earthy lemony flavour from the lemongrass combined with the garlic and complex savoury flavours from the fish sauce and soy sauce makes a killer flavour that will have your neighbours popping their heads over the fence if you cook this on the outdoor grill!
What goes in Lemongrass Chicken
Here’s what goes in the Lemongrass Chicken.
Fresh lemongrass is best here, but if you can’t find it, then lemongrass paste works very well too.
I know some people aren’t a fan of fish sauce which is quite pungent smelling in raw form! But it’s really the “secret ingredient” here, it’s got far more complex flavours than soy sauce and adds incredible depth of flavour in the chicken. And don’t worry, it doesn’t taste fishy once cooked!
This Vietnamese lemongrass marinade is truly incredible. Everybody raves about it!
Substitute for fish sauce?
If you’re allergic to fish sauce, or really can’t get your hands on it (but please try!!), then substitute the fish sauce with more soy sauce but be aware that your marinade will lack the complexity of flavour in real Vietnamese Lemongrass marinades.
Toppings and sauce
And here are the toppings for this Vietnamese Noodles bowl. Lots of fresh vegetables and herbs, and Nuoc Cham, the Vietnamese chilli garlic sauce that makes an appearance alongside everything in Vietnam (I exaggerate not!!).
Nuoc Cham is made with fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, chilli, sugar and lime juice. It’s got a wonderful balance of sweet/savoury and tang, and basically makes everything taste better – whether you drizzle or dunk things in it!
Feel free to switch up the fresh vegetables! Try snow peas, cabbage, capsicum/bell peppers and other crunchy fresh greens!
How to make it
The making part is very straight forward. You’ll see me cook the chicken on a grill in the video – Lemongrass Chicken is traditionally cooked over charcoal in Vietnam – but you can of course cook it on the stove or even in the oven or under the broiler!
This Vietnamese dish is healthy eating without compromise!
To me, these Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken is the epitome of healthy eating without compromise. Low in fat, lots of fresh salads brought to life with bright zingy flavours. The Nuoc Cham sauce has so much flavour, you can scoff down loads of the salad and go light on the chicken and noodles if you’re really wanting to cut down on the calories.
And one last tip – the marinated lemongrass chicken is perfect for popping in the freezer. So make a batch right now!! 🙂 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Vietnamese Noodles with Lemongrass Chicken
Chicken and Marinade
- 600 - 800g / 1.2 - 1.6lb chicken thigh fillets , skinless and boneless or breast (or pork, beef or any seafood)
- 1 stalk lemongrass , white part only, bruised them sliced into pieces easy to pick out later (Note 1)
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped or minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (all purpose or light, NOT dark soy)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Sauce)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (Note 3)
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- 1 red birds eye chilli , finely chopped (Note 4)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 200 g / 7 oz vermicelli noodles , dried
- 2 carrots , julienned
- 2 cucumbers , julienned (optional: remove seeds)
- 5 cups iceberg lettuce , finely sliced
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- Handful of mint leaves
- Handful of cilantro/coriander
- Sliced red chilli (for garnish - optional)
- Lime wedges (to serve - optional but recommended)
- Combine Chicken and Marinade ingredients and set aside for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours. (Note 4)
- Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a fry pan over medium heat (or heat the BBQ). Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off large bits of lemongrass (small bits should fall off during cooking).
- Place chicken in the pan and cook each side until dark golden brown and chicken is just cooked through - about 6 to 8 minutes in total.
- Remove from pan, shaking off any remaining bits of visible lemongrass and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Then slice into thin pieces.
Nuoc Cham Sauce
- Combine the Nuoc Cham ingredients and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Adjust to your taste (spiciness, lime, sweetness) and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
- Soak the vermicelli noodles in hot water for 3 minutes (or according to packet instructions), then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the noodles from sticking together.
- Individual servings: Place noodles in bowl. Top with vegetables and herbs, and sliced chicken pieces. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of Nuoc Cham Sauce (be generous, ~ 4 tbsp per serving) and serve with lime wedges.
- DIY (my preferred way): Place chicken, vegetables, herbs, noodles and sauce in separate bowls / piled on platters. Then let everyone make their own bowls!
- Make this kid friendly by just serving the chilli on the side.
- To make it GLUTEN FREE, ensure you use GF tamari.
- Sub the vegetables with other vegetables of choice eg. capsicum/bell peppers, snow peas (finely sliced)
Originally published January 2017, updated October 2019 with a brand new spruced up video and new photos!
Get your Vietnamese food fix!
- Bun Cha – Vietnamese Meatballs
- Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
- Vietnamese Caramel Pork – another iconic Vietnamese food! Also see the Chicken version.
- Vietnamese Caramelised Pork Bowls – the super quick version of the above
- Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Shrimp/Prawns
- Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- Browse all Vietnamese recipes
And more of my favourite Asian Chicken marinades
All these are ideal for grilling but can also be cooked on the stove
- Real Teriyaki Chicken – on my mother’s Japanese recipe website, RecipeTin Japan. Crispy skin, no oil – way better than westernised versions!
- Thai Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang) – marinated in a fragrant Thai marinade
- Thai Coconut Chicken – added richness and flavour from a coconut marinade
- Asian Chicken – marinated in a great Asian marinade that’s sweet sand savoury
- Sticky Baked Chinese Chicken Wings – use this marinade on breast and thighs!
- Chinese Chicken (Char Siu!) – Chinese BBQ chicken
Life of Dozer
Yes, that’s the tripod that holds my camera worth several thousand dollars…..don’t stand up Dozer!!!