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There’s nothing better than a summer dinner where you don’t have to heat up your kitchen one little bit!  I cooked up some marinaded chicken thighs outside on the grill and served them with a smattering of cold ingredients.  This one was both easy and so fun to eat, my fireman and I had a blast making ourselves little spring rolls and dipping them to our hearts’ content.

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This chicken would be great as a component of a noodle bowl or grilled on a stick as either kebaps or satays too.  I just love spring rolls with all my tiny, little heart though.  Any of those options would be great as a main course or as appetizers.

While the main recipe here is the marinaded and grilled chicken, I’m also sharing some little recipes for some Vietnamese-inspired dipping sauces too.  The recipe for the peanut sauce comes from my college friend, Mai.  In our senior year, our little study group started doing small dinner parties where we showed each other our specialty recipes.  It started with just us girls, but then ended up growing bigger and bigger as our boyfriends (which are all now our husbands!) and friends caught on to the fact that we are all awesome cooks.

Being from a Vietnamese family, one particularly memorable night Mai made us a huge pot of pho and all the fixin’s for spring rolls and a perfectly simple peanut sauce for dipping.  I wish I could say I remembered all her wonderful recipes, but it was a BYOB sort of dinner party involving everyone’s boyfriends and a smattering of roommates, and the only one I remember is her peanut sauce…

South East Asian Grilled Chicken – served in spring rolls

Serves 4 – cost approx $1.85 per serving for whole meal, including sauces

  • 4-6 pieces boneless chicken – whatever is on sale or you like best, I got some delicious thighs for $.99 per lb and took out the bones myself ($1.75)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lime, quartered and squeezed ($.18)
  • 1″ piece ginger, rough chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Tbs palm sugar* or brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 2 Tbs sambal olek chili paste

Just mix everything together and let marinade in the fridge for 2-6 hours.

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When you’re ready to eat, just grill up your chicken!  (If you don’t feel like grilling, I’m sure you could roast or saute it too…)  Let the chicken rest 5 minutes or so then slice into strips of you’re doing spring rolls.

[*If you’re wondering what palm sugar is, it’s a type of compacted sugar that comes in little domes and is available in most Asian markets.  Wikipedia tells me that it comes from the sap of a variety of different types of palm trees.  You just grate or chop off what you need.]

Here’s what I used for the rest of the spring rolls:

  • 10 oz package of vermicelli/mung bean noodles – they come in little bundles, to prepare them you just pour over hot water, let set 5 minutes to ‘cook/soften’ the noodles, drain them, toss with a little veg oil and chill for later ($1.50)
  • 1/4 head shredded cabbage or lettuce ($.40)
  • 3 shredded carrots ($.20)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves ($.25)
  • 1/2 bunch sliced scallions ($.25)
  • 1 package rice paper wrappers ($1.50)

Here’s how to assemble your wonderful little spring rolls:  First, set out a shallow bowl of lukewarm water.  Get a sheet of rice paper and dunk it for 30 seconds or so.  Set it on your plate and pile on whatever fixin’s you like.

IMG_0693Next, wrap it up like a little burrito!  That’s all folks.  (Pardon the horrible, shadowy picture)

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Mai’s Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup peanut sauce ($.50)
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce ($.50)
  • 1/2 cup pho broth or other stock

Mix all ingredients and dip away!

Lazy Nuoc Cham

  • 1/2 lime, zest and juice ($.10)
  • sambal olek chili paste, to taste
  • 2 Tbs rice vinegar

Mix all ingredients and dip away!

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