London is a big place. A really big place.
For some reason, I had always thought of it as the Monopoly board: perfect secondary coloured squares within a perfectly contained larger square…and very little else. London was Mayfair, Fleet Street, Park Lane and Regent Street.
I had completely overlooked the fact that this is actually an incomprehensibly huge city sprawl comprised of succinct individual townships, each with their own distinct character. The likes of Finsbury Park and Maida Vale never made it onto the board and thusly, in my mind, never existed.
The Swede and I live on the west side, in Holland Park: a lovely place to create a very nice bubble in which to live. The farthest I will travel to visit a friend is Clapham, where The Influencer lives. Based east or north of the city? You may as well not live here at all. I am not coming to see you.
All in all, London is a relatively lonely place for someone that hails from the opposite side of the globe. [Read: few friends and too lazy to travel].
That being said, imagine how happy I was to find that two of my very good friends (from here on in known as Bloke and Bear) were not only making the big move from Sydney to London, but were also, by complete coincidence, set to live on my street! All was well in the world once more.
As with the majority of my close friends Bloke and Bear and I share a keen interest in food and booze. We frequented the same haunts back home, share recommendations for new eateries to try and engage in well-received weekday recipe swaps.
So when I found out this Friday evening just passed that the female half of the duo was teetering on the edge of loyalty in favour of Delicious Magazine’s new online offering, I.was.pissed. It is worth noting that this information was supplied by the male half, who was only too happy to throw the love of his life under a bus, which dragged her twenty metres down the road before reversing over her repeatedly.
So it was with great gusto that I awoke [at the crack of noon] the very next day and got to work on this not-at-all-bitter post in a bid to win back my wandering pal.
So here it is. A super easy midweek recipe that is so full of flavour it would have anyone believe that you spent far more time whipping it up than you actually did. I can’t help but feel I am a raging hypocrite, given I totally ripped the recipe off from Gourmet Traveller Australia. But, whatever – winning is what counts.
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken with Tomato Rice
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped
40g palm sugar
50mL light soy sauce
50mL fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
8 bone-in free range chicken thighs, skin on
1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
For the Tomato Rice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 red shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
200g tinned cherry tomatoes
50mL fish sauce
2 cups chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Process garlic, chilli, lemongrass, palm sugar and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a food processor until finely chopped, then add soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice and process to combine. Place chicken in a non-reactive container and coat well with the sauce. Leave to marinate (minimum 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, for the tomato rice, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and stir occasionally until tender (3-4 minutes). Add rice and stir to coat in oil. Add tomato and fish sauce and stir to combine before adding chicken stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and season to taste. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook, without uncovering, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stand to steam for 5 minutes.
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken skin-side down and cook, turning once, until brown (4-5 minutes). Add marinade to pan and turn chicken skin-side up. Transfer to the oven and roast, basting occasionally, until golden and cooked through (6-8 minutes). Serve immediately with fresh herbs, fried shallots and lime wedges.
NB: the version I served in the feature image also included green papaya salad as I got overly excited when I found it at the Chinese grocer. Recipe to come!