Garlic Lemongrass Chicken (or Fish, or Pork)

5 plump lemongrass stalks, inner bulb only, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 large jalapeño, chopped
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs and breasts (or on pork tenderloin or any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as snapper, sea bass or halibut)

In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass until finely chopped. Add the scallions, garlic, jalapeño and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a steady stream and process to a fine paste. Season the paste with salt and pepper.

Using a small, sharp knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slashes into the chicken and rub the paste all over, working it into the slashes. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Vermicelli and Nuoc Cham

5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut lengthwise into 12 strips in all
1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pound vermicelli
1 cup bean sprouts 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin slices
2/3 cup fresh mint, basil, or cilantro leaves, or any combination of the three
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Heat the broiler or light the grill. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 cloves of the garlic, and the oil. Add the chicken, toss, and then thread each strip onto a wooden skewer. Broil or grill the chicken until just done, about 2 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 clove garlic with the red-pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, and water. Set this nuoc cham aside.

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the vermicelli until just done, about 9 minutes. Add the bean sprouts during the last minute of cooking. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.

Put the pasta and bean sprouts on a platter and top with the cucumber, herbs, and chicken skewers. Pour the nuoc cham over all and sprinkle with the peanuts.