Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tangy Thai Chicken on the grill

Tonight was supposed to be a grilling night, but the rain came down, so we used the indoor grill pan instead. This recipe is from Good Times, Good Grilling: Surefire Recipes for Great Grill Parties by Cheryl and Bill Jamison and is fairly simple but very tasty . Here's a link to the book on Amazon should you want to check it out for yourself:

The Recipe:

Tangy Thai Chicken

Simple to make, with easily found ingredients, but exotic and complex in taste - that's the beauty of these breasts. Serve them with white rice or on mixed greens with a peanut oil vinaigrette.

Serves 4.

  • 1 tbsp store-bought red or green Thai curry paste, or more to taste
  • 2 tsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 can (15 oz) coconut milk
  • Salt or Asian fish sauce (also called nam pla or nuoc mam) optional
  • 4 medium to large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/2 inch thick
  • Store-bought sweet Thai red chile sauce
  • Chopped peanuts or chopped fresh mint, basil, or cilantro, or a combination
Make the marinade, first combining the curry paste and oil in a bowl and stirring until the paste is softened. Mix in three quarters of the coconut milk and taste the mixture. If it tastes bland now, it will taste even blander on the chicken, so add more curry paste, and salt if needed, until the mixture is pleasantly pungent. If the mixture becomes too spicy, add a little more coconut milk. Place the chicken in a zippered plastic bag, pour the marinade over it, and seal the bag. Toss back and forth to coat the chicken evenly. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes while you prepare the grill. For a more intense flavor, marinate for up to several hours, refrigerated.

Fire up the grill, bringing the heat to medium (4 to 5 seconds with the hand test).

Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade. Grill the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes total. Turn onto each side twice, rotating the breasts a half-turn each time for crisscross grill marks.

After each side of the chicken has faced the fire once, brush them with a few tablespoons of the chile sauce. The chicken is ready when it is white throughout but still juicy and the surface is a bit chewy and caramelized in spots.

The breasts can be served whole or thickly sliced and mounded on a platter. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts or herbs or both, and accompany with additional sweet chile sauce.

Adding a Personal Signature:
Turn from Thailand to India for inspiration. Replace the coconut milk with about 1 cup of plain yogurt and replace the curry paste with good fresh curry powder or garam masala. Skip the chile sauce glaze, but do sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Use the chicken as a filling for summer rolls. Dampen Asian rice paper wrappers briefly in warm water and pat off excess water. Then roll up chicken shreds and all the garnishes into 1-inch-diameter cylinders with the ends tucked in (like a burrito). For dunking, serve with the sweet Thai chile sauce or mix some of the sauce into about an equal amount of white vinegar.

My results:

So, here first are my ingredients as used in this test:

The only thing not shown in this picture is the sweet chile sauce. I used Aroma Chef's Thai sweet chile sauce which we picked up at the local grocery store. The coconut milk and fish sauce both came from our local Asian market, but I know a lot of regular grocery stores are carrying both these days. I began with the red curry paste and oil as instructed and then added the coconut milk. It tasted pretty bland so I added more curry paste (about 1 more tsp) and about 1 tbsp of fish sauce. Then it tasted a bit hot, so I added the rest of the coconut milk. It tasted about right at that point when I spied half a lime I had left over from another use and decided to add the lime juice in, so added the juice of half a lime :) That was perfect. Tossed the chicken into a baggy and then tossed the sauce in with it and tossed it around to coat. Because hubby was going to be later than expected, I threw this in the fridge for about a hour and a half while I waited for his arrival. Here's a pic of the marinated chicken, just before I heated up the grill pan:

Next, I heated our grill pan on medium high heat for 5 minutes to throughly heat the surface and placed the breasts on the pan. Set the timer for 5 minutes, turned and rotated them and set the timer for another 5 minutes. After this turn/rotate, I glazed one side of the breasts with the chile sauce and let cook for 2 minutes, then the other side and again, 2 minutes. They came out perfectly cooked and beautiful! And boy were they ever yummy! Here's a photo of the finished breasts before we devoured them:

We served these with white jasmine rice and sautéed zucchini (which I just happened to have on hand) and they were wonderful! I could definitely see these in a summer roll or even on a Thai-style salad, somewhat like yum nuah. Very good and definitely a recipe we'll do again. Perhaps I'll let the chicken marinade a little longer next time, but other than that, this was a winner! Check back tomorrow for more recipe fun!

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