Where’s your favorite place to eat? Does a certain city represent good food? Grandma’s house? Your own kitchen? For me, it’s on a larger scale: Thailand. Fortunately, we get to go about once a year to attend a conference. As a family of 4, we can eat a meal out for $5 if we eat local. Or we can splurge a little and eat wonderful American food that I don’t have to slave over in my own kitchen. I can sip Thai iced tea, a sweet milky tea, for $1. (Although, I fully admit that I’ve greatly missed my chai tea while I’ve been here!!) Banana-filled rotees (think crepe-like) drizzled in Nutella are a favorite night-time snack. Oh, the food! No wonder my pants don’t fit the same by the end of our trip.
A few weeks ago, I got to take a half-day Thai cooking class. It’s one of the tourist-y things to do here, so I didn’t know what to expect. Was I really going to learn anything about Thai cooking or was it going to be a rushed-through “get ’em in, get ’em out” kind of class?
I knew it would be good shortly after climbing into the van. The owner himself came to pick us up and said there would be a change of plans—there were too many loud “students” at his school, so he decided to take us to his home to ensure we had a good class and could actually hear him. Score!
After picking up some other “students,” we headed outside the city to his home. In his large outdoor kitchen, we got to learn the hard work it takes to create some of the most common Thai dishes. We’re talking using a mortar and pestle here, folks! But all the hard work paid off when we got to eat our creations. Yum!
The thing that stuck out most was that perhaps because all the ingredients were fresh, I could taste every one of them. It created such depth! Ok, that sounded a little fake from me because, despite what others may tell you, I am no foodie. Ahem, Danielle. I come from a very bland childhood. Bland food, that is. But since moving overseas and being forced to learn how to cook for real, I’ve discovered what real food tastes like. When I’m in a country that shows it, I watch The Food Network like some sort of addict. If I can’t go to school to learn, that’s the next best thing, right?!
I digress. The point is, the food was delish. They sent us home with a little cookbook, so maybe after I practice a recipe or two, I can share them with you.
This recipe isn’t an actual Thai dish that I know of. But it has the flavors of Thailand, so we’re going with it.
Does chopping meat gross anyone else out? I try to get through this step the fastest every time.
Yummy spices meeting again.
The longer you let the chicken marinate in the coconutty goodness, the better! I’ve never left it in a whole day, but putting it in after lunch or early afternoon would be perfect to make in time for dinner.
During one of those hours, chop your cilantro. Then go take a nap or something productive like that. Naps are productive, right?
Toss it all in together! I love one-pot meals. Makes life easy when you only have 2 burners.
If you get nervous like me with dishes using chicken, take a piece out and cut into it to make sure it’s done. No salmonella, please!
Toss the cilantro in last, if you like cilantro. I’m learning it’s a love-hate kind of ingredient.
Serve over cooked rice. I almost always serve this with roasted carrots, then mix it all together. And now I’m salivating.
Coconut Lime Chicken
Serives 4-6 Total time: 2 1/2 hours
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
3 tbsp oil
zest of 1 lime or lemon*
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp curry powder
1 can (~14oz) coconut milk
1 small fresh hot chili, such as Thai or Serrano, minced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro Fresh limes, cut into wedges (if you have them!)
*Where I live, sometimes I can find fresh lemons, but almost never limes. For this recipe, either works. If you don’t have a fresh lemon or lime to zest, just add a few more splashes of juice!
Cut chicken breasts into small, bite-sized pieces.
In a medium bowl, mix all remaining ingredients except fresh cilantro and limes. Add chicken to marinade and chill in the refrigerator for about two hours. This step is important to ensure lots of flavor, so try to plan ahead!
In a heavy skillet or wok, heat a splash of oil over high heat. Add chicken and marinade to the pan and cook until chicken is done, 8-10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Sprinkle with fresh lime juice and cilantro. Serve over cooked rice.
*The leftovers taste even better because the flavors have even more time to meld together!
Where is your favorite place to eat?