Lemon grass chicken skewers top off a day in the Hawaiian surf

The comforting dish pared well with sore muscles. It turns out surfing is very hard, and not for everyone.

Lemongrass chicken skewers are best made on a grill, but can be made in the oven. (Tressa Dale / For the Peninsula Clarion)

Lemongrass chicken skewers are best made on a grill, but can be made in the oven. (Tressa Dale / For the Peninsula Clarion)

By Tressa Dale / For the Peninsula Clarion

On a windy December afternoon, I drove to the far side of Oahu to take my first surfing lesson. I rented a board with a purple floral design and lathered on the sunscreen despite the clouds.

The waves in December are famously intense on the north shore, but our beach was sheltered, and the waves were tame enough for a beginner. My instructor went through positions and safety protocols with me on the dry sand, and I was feeling confident that I would stand and ride the waves straight away — I was wrong. It turns out to be much more difficult than I anticipated, and I fell off my board over and over and over.

The experience was equally exhilarating and frustrating, and by the end of the two-hour lesson I was exhausted, bruised and starving.

I decided to get an early dinner by myself at the Vietnamese restaurant I remembered seeing as I drove through the small town near the beach. The dining room was filled with locals sporting damp, salty hair and sandy flip flops, and smelled of fragrant broth and charred meat. Usually, I would order pho at a Vietnamese restaurant, but that day I was so beat and wobbly I decided some meat would be more satisfying, so I ordered lemon grass chicken skewers for my meal.

The chicken paired so well with my sore muscles it became my traditional dinner after a workout in the waves. I went to a few more surfing lessons before deciding the hobby just wasn’t for me. I am too timid to go for the good waves, and too afraid of sharks to really enjoy my time on the water. But I was proud of myself for being brave enough to try something I knew would scare me.

Lemon grass chicken skewers

These are best made on a grill, but I made them in the oven.


2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

3 tablespoons lemon grass chicken skewers lemon grass paste (or 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, crushed and chopped into a paste)

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Black pepper and salt to taste

Fresno pepper slices for garnish


Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the lemon grass, fish sauce, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar salt and pepper.

Toss the chicken in the seasoning mix, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Arrange your chicken pieces on the skewers. Do not crowd them or pack them too tightly or they will not cook evenly.

Use any remaining sauce to coat the chicken before cooking.

If you are grilling, cook the skewers over flame or coals until the outside is slightly charred and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

If you are using the oven, lightly grease a baking tray and cook under the broiler on high heat. You want to flip them over halfway through cooking so both sides get time under direct heat. This will help the chicken to cook evenly and will give both sides a slightly crispy texture. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the skewers, or you can serve them as-is on the skewer.

I prepared a cold rice noodle salad for the side dish, but sticky rice or noodle soup would be delicious as well.

Tressa Dale is a culinary and pastry school graduate and U.S. Navy veteran from Anchorage, Alaska. She lives in Nikiski, Alaska, with her husband, 2-year-old son and two black cats.

Talk to us

More in Food & Drink

The 9th-annual Everett Food Truck Festival is happening this Saturday, Aug. 13. (Jake Campbell /  Everett Food Truck Festival)
Your ultimate guide to this weekend’s Everett Food Truck Festival

Head to downtown Everett this weekend for great food, beer, live music, local artists and more.

A beer is poured at UpperLeft Beerfest on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
This weekend, take a sip out of Upper Left Beerfest in Everett

Upper Left Beerfest is back in Everett this weekend, with more than 20 craft breweries and cideries.

Upper Left Beerfest: The full pour list

Find every type of beer, cider and more served at this year’s Upper Left Beer Fest in Everett.

Food forum
Chocolate peanut butter Incredibles

These chocolate peanut butter bars are, as the name suggests, incredible.

Spicy Salmon and Spicy Sambal Ahi on Sushi rice with Mac salad served with salad at Ono Poke in Edmonds, Washington location on June 22, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
These Snohomish County bites and sips will keep you cool this summer

There’s no need to stew when you’ve got concha ice cream sandwiches and cold rice noodle bowls.

A sour tasting flight from Wild Barrel Brewing, of San Marcos, Calif. (Aaron Swaney)
Beer lovers can get funky at 5 Rights Brewing’s Sour Fest

Learn all about (and drink plenty of) sour ales this week during the Marysville craft brewer’s Funkville Sour Festival

Food forum
Add some zip to your deviled eggs

Make this non-recipe your own with fresh herbs, relish and other favorite add-ins.

Food forum
Got an eggplant? Cook my Aunt Mary’s caponata

My family comes back to this decades-old recipe time and time again.

Freshly dug clams are blended into a creamy chowder of potatoes, onions, shallots, meat and spices. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
This clam chowder springs from a knowledge of the land

The comforting soup can be made with clams you dig yourself on a rocky beach. Or just open a couple of cans.

Bar Dojo's colorful vegan nachos boast marinated organic tofu poke, Asian slaw, cilantro and vegenaise sriracha lime aioli on top of crispy wonton shells. (Photo courtesy of Bar Dojo)
The best vegan grub in Snohomish County, according to readers

If you love french fries, burgers, nachos and ice cream, you, too, can enjoy vegan food.

Nick Hegge, brewer and owner of Wild Oak Project, runs a brewery out of his garage in Everett, Washington on July 25, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Meet the Everett brewer cranking out craft beer from his home

Nick Hegge and his Wild Oak Project brews barrel-aged beers in a 500-square-foot garage.

Coastal Shrimp Bake
The South meets the Pacific Northwest in this rustic dish

With flavor that builds as you bake it, coastal shrimp bake brings Southern flair to a memorable mid-summer meal.