Years ago, I found a Vietnamese-style chicken and pineapple stir fry recipe from an American-published Vietnamese cookbook and I cooked my version based on it. Then, in an episode of Luke Nguyen’s Vietnam, I watched chef Luke Nguyen cook a very similar dish using thinly sliced pork neck. The difference: Luke Nguyen’s recipe uses more herbs and spices traditionally associated with Vietnamese cuisine. In short, it was more authentic.
Following Luke Nguyen’s recipe, I cooked this stir fry using chicken instead of pork. Fresh pineapple chunks were used. I urge you to NOT substitute canned pineapple chunks as they will not expel any natural juices during cooking. It is the natural juice of the pineapple that really brings all the flavors together as the juice reduces and thickens over very high heat.
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 8 chicken thigh fillets cut into thin strips
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 bell peppers (capsicum), diced
- 2 bird’s eye chilies (or about 4 finger chilies), chopped
- 1/4 cup Chinese chives cut into 1 and 1/2 inch lengths (best to measure after cutting)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 to 6 thin slices ginger
- 2 stalks lemongrass finely sliced (see tips)
- 2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
- snipped cilantro to garnish
Mix together the fish sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar and grated ginger. Pour over the chicken, mix well and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Heat the cooking oil in a pan. When very hot (you’ll see smoke start to appear), drain the chicken (reserve the marinade) and add to the oil. Cook, stirring and tossing alternately, until lightly browned around the edges. Scoop out and keep warm.
In the remaining oil in the pan, sauté the garlic, ginger, chives, lemongrass and chilies until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
Return the chicken to the pan. Add the pineapple chunks.
Pour in the marinade. There will be very little liquid but, trust me, that little liquid is packed with flavors. So, use it.
Without lowering the heat, stir fry for a couple of minutes to cook the chicken through. The pineapple chunks should expel enough juices in which the chicken can cook completely.
Taste the sauce (there will be very little). Add more fish sauce, sugar or rice wine vinegar, as needed.
Sprinkle with snipped cilantro to garnish.
Serve your Vietnamese chicken and pineapple stir fry hot with rice.