Malaysian-style Chicken With Garlic and Lemongrass

Whoa! What the heck happened? There I was blogging along, documenting a life of running, eating, drinking, and sleeping and then life took over and blogging came to a halt. I guess taking the running, eating, and drinking to a new level cuts into the sleeping and the blogging.

I was reminded earlier this week by Major Janine Garner in the middle of a five mile tempo that she and others are waiting for updates on the old blog. As I huffed and puffed through the run, I promised her that REDS would indeed return, and with a vengeance.

I made this Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass way back in March(!). Every now and again, I feel the weight of all the feasting and search for healthy meal ideas, preferably those that do not involve giving up a lot of flavor. Instead of pork shoulder, short ribs, and beef, it’s fish, chicken, and vegetables. During a recent streak of health conscious eating, I dug into my e-mail archives and found a recipe sent to me by Tasting Table for chicken thighs packed with tons of flavors including tons of ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. The recipe requires a bit of advanced prep work but was completely worth it.

I put together the marinade in the morning and let the chicken marinate in the fridge while I went to work. When I got home later that evening I made some rice and went to work searing the chicken and putting it in the oven. The chicken turned out delicious and I figured it would also be great grilled if/when the weather cooperates.

Malaysian-style Chicken with Garlic and Lemongrass (adapted from Tasting Table)


½ cup canola oil
4 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and stalk finely chopped
16 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Four-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons sambal chile paste
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Juice of ½ lime
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

Four 6-ounce bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


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Shaking Beef (Thit Bo Luc Lac)

Growing up, the Lam household was a meat-eating household and beef was often the meat of choice. Of course, weekend mornings often included pho or Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho) and on Sundays, dinner would be steak, pan-fried noodles with beef, or tableside grilled beef. During the weekdays my mother would often marinate flanken style short ribs and I would be in charge of grilling them while doing homework at the dining room table or kitchen counter. There were also many times when my mom would make thit bo luc lac, or shaking beef, which was a favorite among the Lam siblings. Honestly, my brothers enjoyed shaking beef more than I did and while I didn’t mind eating it from time to time, I would have much preferred a grilled steak.

Now that I am fending for myself in the real world, shaking beef is one of my go to weekday meals. Although cutting up a wonderful piece of steak tears at my heart a little, I like the ability to portion out servings and pack the leftovers for lunch. Other than some marinating time (which can be done the night before) the dish takes less than 30 minutes to make. The key to making this dish is to keep the wok or pan incredibly hot so that the beef sears quickly. It is also important to sear the beef in batches so the pan can remain hot, but if I’m lazy I just throw all the beef in. What makes this dish especially great is a lime and pepper dipping sauce that adds a nice tartness to contrast with the sweet and vinegary beef. You can serve this over watercress, but I like it with just a bowl of white rice.

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Fettuccine in Lemon Cream Sauce with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

I don’t normally cook seafood during the week because most of the time I need to pack some leftovers for lunch the next day and reheating seafood can be a little tricky. I do not want to be the person responsible for stinking up the office. One exception to this courteous inclination is a pasta recipe I first read about in my cousin’s blog for pappardelle, asparagus, and smoked salmon in a lemon cream sauce. Not only is this dish delicious, it comes together in about 30 minutes, making it an ideal weekday meal for me.

While the original recipe calls for pappardelle and three tablespoons of butter, I use the much easier to find fettuccine and replace the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for a healthier touch. (The sauce calls for 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Depending on your perspective replacing the butter with olive oil is either pretty worthless or a good effort in combating heart disease.) Additionally, if I have a few frozen peas on hand I throw them in for a little extra green, which, in my view, never hurts.

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Lemongrass Chicken

I originally wanted to name this blog “Work, Eat, Run, Sleep” because that is basically my life — day after day, week after week, month after month — especially when I am training for a race. When I am in full training mode I often tell friends and family that my life is WERS. So while my weekends are filled with delicious and elaborate meals, my weekday dinners are exponentially more hectic and haphazard.

On a regular (i.e. not busy) day, I leave my office anytime between 6:00pm and 6:30pm. After running five to eight miles, strength training, stretching, and commuting, I usually arrive home around 9:00pm, hungry and tired. Therefore, I try to manage my meals so that I only have to cook one quick meal during the week (two, if necessary), which is really for the next day’s lunch and dinner and not for immediate consumption.* After years of this WERS routine, I have a handful of go-to weekday dinners that take 20-30 minutes to make and can be easily reheated for lunch or dinner the next day.

My Top Five Weekday Dinners That Can Be Made in 30 Minutes or Less
1. Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
2. Ziti with Sausage Onion and Fennel
3. Salmon with Andouille Sausage and Green Olives
4. Crusty Chicken Thighs with Mushroom Sauce
5. Lemongrass Chicken

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Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Chili with Monterey Jack Cheese

After a few days of short ribs, cheesy polenta, and cookies, my body was in desperate need of something healthy. While surfing the internet for new and interesting recipes, I came across one for black-eyed pea and kale chili with Monterey Jack cheese from Andrew Carmellini’s new cookbook, American Flavors. I have and love Carmellini’s first cookbook, Urban Italian, and was excited to try something from the new cookbook. I had chipotle chili in adobo left over from the short ribs and roommate Alex keeps the fridge stocked with large amounts of kale so this recipe had the potential to be tasty, healthy, and fridge cleaning.

Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Chili with Monterey Jack Cheese (adapted from American Flavors by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon honey
1 bunch Tuscan or green kale (about 1/2 pound) stems removed, leaves washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium flame. Add the bacon and allow it to render a bit (about 2 minutes), stirring regularly to stop it from sticking.

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