There’s a growing number of Asian cuisine styled restaurants that are popping up everywhere…and they are Vegan! They all have very similar characteristics in where they are blending traditional Southern Chinese cuisine with Vietnamese cuisine. Golden Bamboo is the perfect example of a restaurant serving up this awesome food and the reason why I value it so much, is because I love food that pushes the envelop of what is possible with plant based ingredients. I love when someone says, “holy shit, this is Vegan?” And more importantly, I love knowing that there’s a world of chefs out there trying to make the traditional foods we all grew up with, in plant based forms.
With all this inspiration, there’s one dish that will always be present at these types of restaurants and that is, Lemongrass “Chicken.” For the most part, everyone loves a crispy fried chicken, and when you sauté it with some lemongrass, you get crazy layers of flavor, fragrance, and texture. The best part about this dish, is that it’s super easy to make!
I chose to use a textured soy protein purchased from my local Asian grocery store. They should be fairly easy to find as they are used in a ton of traditional asian dishes and buddhist cuisine. They also come dehydrated and when you soak them, they end up having a very similar texture to that of chicken.
For the fragrant ingredients, we’ll use some onions, bell peppers, and of course some fresh lemongrass.
There’s nothing like the fresh aroma of minced lemongrass. It’s ridiculously aromatic and when you cut into it, you’ll wish you could wear it on your skin!
The other key component to a great lemongrass dish is a flavored paste called Bun Bo Hue paste. Bun Bo Hue is a traditional Vietnamese soup dish that has all the aromatics of lemongrass, shallots, garlic and annatto.
This paste is critical for making really good lemongrass chicken dish because it just puts all the flavor in there for you, with minimal fuss. While it says, “Beef flavor,” the brand I use actually doesn’t contain any meat products, but as a quick warning, there is a lot of sodium, so use sparingly if you prefer less salt. If you can’t find this at your local asian market, you can purchase a similar one here.
To get started, we’ll simply dredge the textured soy in a light coat of flour. After you’ve soaked the soy protein for about an hour, they should still be damp so that the flour can stick to each piece.
Next up, we’ll heat up some oil in a pan, and just give the textured soy protein and quick shallow fry. It should only take about 2-3 minutes per side, to make these bad boys crispy.
Look for a light brown color to note doneness and try not to crisp them too much, because we still want somewhat of a soft texture inside each bite. When done, lay them out on a paper towel to dry and soak up the remaining oils.
In a separate pan, preferably a wok, heat up some oil over medium-high heat, and fry the lemongrass. You should immediately smell the aromas hit there air and be salivating for the savory goodness that is Lemongrass Crispies!
Once your lemongrass has been in the oil for about 10-20 seconds, we’ll throw in the other aromatics to give more layers of flavor into this dish.
Give the aromatics a good toss, cooking them for about a minute, and then add the Bun Bo Hue paste. What I like to do with the paste first, is to mix it with a couple tbsp of water so it separates easier and coats better. Once the aromatics fry up together, drop in the textured soy protein and wok toss all ingredients for about 2 minutes. That’s it!
What you’ll end up with is a stunning dish that goes great with a nice bowl of steamed rice or whatever your heart desires!