Vietnamese Spicy Stir Fry Chicken with Lemongrass – Gà Xào Sả Ớt

Vietnamese stir fry chicken with lemongrass and chili pepper is a traditional home-style dish.  My mom makes it so good.  She taught me how to cook this dish.  For the past year, I’ve been taking pictures and documenting every amount of the same ingredients I used every time.  I finally got it to taste just the way how mom makes it, not so salty, not too sweet, just the right amount of chili with soft and tender chicken.  Oh so delicious!   This dish is served with jasmine rice and great with a simple vegetable soup (canh) and stir fry watergrass.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20-25 minutes
  • Use a nonstick 8-inch deep pan


  • 1 tsp coco caramel (nuoc mau dua)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup Viet Huong fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar (cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 stalks lemongrass or 4 Tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Thai chilies*
  • 3 lbs of dark meat chicken (drumsticks, thighs, wings)


  • I’ve tried to be healthy and used white chicken breast before and it did not turn out so good.  White meat chicken with this dish will be dry and chewy.
  • I sometimes substitute the Thai chili peppers with black pepper for my kids to eat.
  • I learned not to use too much meat because if the meat piles on top of each other, I find it doesn’t cook evenly and I literally have to stand by the stove to stir it up all the time.


1.  Prepping the chicken: 
This is how I chopped my chicken wings.  I discard the bony ends.
As for drumsticks, I chopped it in thirds and then deboned the first section where it’s the thickest with the most meat.

Regardless how many wings or drumsticks I’m using, I learned to make sure it fits into this Rubbermaid 5.2-cup container to fit into my 10-inch pan nicely.  =)
You can coat the meat now with 1 tsp of coco caramel or later during cooking.

2.  In a little bowl, mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup Viet Huong fish sauce together.

3. Chop 4 Thai chilies, 4 Tbsp of lemongrass, and 1 Tbsp of minced garlic and put into a bowl. I sometimes substitute the chilies with black pepper for my kids.

4. Getting ready to cook.

5. Heat up 2 Tbsp of oil in an 8-inch pan on high heat. Then pour the lemongrass mixture in and stir it on high heat for about 1 minute until you smell it.

7.  Add the dark meat chicken. (I drizzled in about 1 teaspoon of coco caramel because I forgot to do that earlier in step 1 so this is the time to do it now.)
Stir chicken well to brown it evenly and cook on high for 1 or 2 minutes.
8.  Add in the fish sauce mixture and immediately turn to medium heat.
9.  Add in 1/4 cup of water and cook on medium to medium low (#5 setting on my GE Spectra stove).
10.  Set timer for 20 minutes.  Stir meat every 5 minutes or so until sauce caramelizes or thickens to your preference.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice, accompany with stir fry watergrass or a simple stir fry vegetable would be great!
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