How quickly the weeks pass by
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The other evening my husband casually said, “Have you decided what you're going to make for this month's food swap?”
“Not really. I've got time; it's still a ways away. Isn't it?”
I forever have things I want to cook, bookmarked, pinned, printed, and written on random lists scattered around the house. All good places to start in my quest for a dish fitting this month's theme, Food From Around the World
Thai Chicken quickly made the shortlist. Not only is it delicious, but non-fussy, without exotic ingredients to source. A meal I hoped we'd look forward to eating in our everyday
Many of the recipes I thumbed through featured all or some of the flavors considered traditional in Thai food: fish sauce, heat, ginger, coconut milk, and cilantro
In the end, I shied away from those that incorporated coconut milk into the sauce, choosing instead to glean the flavor from a bed of brown coconut rice.
(My philosophy? The hit in calories and fat wasn't worth it to me. One cup of coconut milk contains about 550 calories, with 480 of those coming from fat. Yes, for sure, it's a healthy fat, but too much of a good thing is still, too much)
The recipe begged an open canvas for veggies. I used what we had on hand: a red pepper, onion, and mustard greens. Along the way, I also discovered chicken pieces that are browned before being added to the sauce, are much prettier on the plate you serve to your sweetie.
The final product was a home run. Much better than I expected, and will definitely be finding a home in our dinner rotation. We loved the scents of fresh cilantro, garlic, and lime as it cooked. As we sat down for dinner, the chicken in combination with the rice didn't disappoint
It made me think of the new food word I've been reading about lately, umami, the 5th element of Asian cooking that this dish was absolutely brimming with.
Huh? Read more about this exotic 5th taste here or here.
I couldn't help but think of other uses for this wonderful chicken. Additions to my lunch-time salads, toppings for pizza, add-in protein for a soup that begs a flavor boost, omelets, and frittatas
Thai Chicken with Brown Coconut Jasmine Rice
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~ 1 ½ pounds), cut into 1" cubes
- 2 ½ Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp natural sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 1 ½ tsp white vinegar
- 1 ½ Tbsp coconut (or olive) oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 fresh red chiles, seeds and ribs removed, cut into thin slices (or ¼ tsp dried red-pepper flakes)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 cups mustard leaves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
- Lightly salt and pepper the chicken and brown in a medium saucepan (We're not cooking it all the way through here, just browning it ever so slightly for presentation)
- Whisk together 1 ¼ c water, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and vinegar. Set aside
- In a large saucepan, heat the coconut oil. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant (~ 30 sec - 1 min)
- Add the peppers and cook until they're soft (~ 1 min)
- Add the bell pepper & sauté another minute or two
- Stir in the fish sauce and raise the heat to high. When it's just on the verge of boiling, add the chicken and stir to mix
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken has finished cooking through (~ 10 minutes or so)
- Serve with coconut rice, spooning the chicken and its sauce over the rice. Garnish with cilantro.
~ Adapted from Epicurious
Coconut Brown Jasmine Rice
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup brown jasmine rice, well rinsed, drained
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
- Combine 1 cups water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy large saucepan. Bring to simmer, then stir in rice.
- Cover, leaving a slight opening for steam to escape. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 12 minutes.
- Cover tightly, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.
- Transfer rice to bowl; sprinkle with toasted coconut.