Back to the kitchen: Thailand

October was a busy month, to say the least. We were lucky enough to spend a weekend with the Coles, have visits from my dad and Aunt Susan and Mike’s mom, and host a toddler Halloween party. With all that going on, plus preschool three days a week, cooking fell to the wayside. October featured a lot of staples – turkey burgers, chicken and dumplings, tomato soup and cheese sandwiches, but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s November now, and I’m attempting to rectify that.

So tonight, we head to Thailand. It must be said that I am not a huge fan of Thai food. I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to spices, I don’t really like coconut, and I really can’t stand pad Thai. Still, Thailand represents a pretty good chunk of the world’s population and it seems remiss to skip it, since its cuisine varies enough from its neighbors.

Our entrée for tonight is fairly simple – peanut chicken. When I do think of Thai food, my mind immediately goes to coconut milk and peanuts, and this recipe had both. A simple stir-fry seemed perfect for our first lazy Saturday in over a month.

The recipe I chose was from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. It’s fairly straight forward and thanks to cooking other Asian countries, I had everything I needed in my pantry. Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used a tablespoon of pre-crushed garlic)
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (Again, I used one tablespoon of pre-crushed ginger – those tubes of fresh spices are the best)
I tbsp curry powder (he suggest making your own, but I didn’t)
2 tbsps vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1/2 cup coconut milk (in the variation on this recipe, peanut chicken with vegetables – which I did – it calls for 3/4 cup of coconut milk, along with one head of broccoli, parboiled, and 6 trimmed scallions, cut into 2 inch pieces, also parboiled. After boiling the veggies, add to the pan with the chicken, before adding the coconut milk).

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Marinate the chicken chunks with the garlic, ginger, and curry powder. I left mine in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Add the oil to pan and heat on medium, then cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium high and add the chicken. Cook, until the chicken begins to brown, about 5 minutes.

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Stir in the peanuts, sugar, fish sauce, veggies, if using, and coconut milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes (I’d say about 7).

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Serve immediately with rice.

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Mike and I both thought this was good. My only comment was that I wished it were more peanutty, which could be easy remedied by adding more peanuts or a little peanut butter. I thought all the flavors blended well together. I couldn’t taste the coconut milk at all, which makes me wonder if I should be more adventurous when it comes to Thai food and not be turned off by that ingredient.

Quinn, for her part, really enjoyed the Basmati rice.

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She was less enthused by the chicken (I apologize for the blurry photo, but this is an action shot).

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All in all, this was a tasty, easy meal. Basically cooked in one pot, there was little stress or mess. Considering tomorrow I’m tackling Spain and paella, this is definitely a good thing.


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