Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thai Chicken in Coconut Milk with Basil

This is lovely and festive and comes together in about half an hour, assuming you've been able to do your chopping ahead of time. It's also hip-friendly if you use light coconut milk, although not quite as marvelous as with regular. This is one recipe where you actually don't want to brown your chicken in the pan - once each side reaches that white cooked look, turn them over in the pan to the other side. If you brown them, the breast meat will dry out, so just a gentle cooking procedure in this step before you add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. And no need to be scientific - I actually use a big spatula and scatter the meat around the pan for about 8 minutes until every piece is that ugly, ghostly white. Sacrificing beauty now will mean tender chicken in the long run.

Oh and use the remaining lime zest to season a pot of rice to go with it.

Thai Chicken in Coconut Milk with Basil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon yellow curry paste
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
couple shakes coriander powde
1 can coconut milk (you can use light if you're watching your bulges)
zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas
Couple handfuls of fresh basil, roughly torn

Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large dutch oven and bring to medium heat on your stove. Add your onion and ginger, seasoning with a little salt and pepper and saute, stirring every once in a while for about 4 minutes. Add your chicken chunks, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Stir around for a few minutes until every piece is opaque white, but not browned - about 8 minutes depending on how well your pan conducts heat and wether you're using a gas or electric stove.

Add in the pepper strips, seasoning with a little more salt, then the brown sugar, curry paste, curry powder, and coriander. Stir around to incorporate, then pour in the coconut milk, lime zest, and fish sauce. Stir well and bring to a boil. While boiling, stir well making sure nothing has burnt at the bottom, then lower the heat so that the mixture calms to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes (you can put a lid 3/4 of the way on during this.) Stir in the peas and let heat thru until they're that beautiful 70's green color. Stir in the basil just before serving, and serve over jasmine or regular rice seasoned with lime zest.

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