Stir-Fried Chicken with Cucumber

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Stir-fried cucumber is my new favorite thing. I love cucumbers, but cooked? Consider my mind blown.

This is the kind of easy weeknight dish that comes together with what’s already in the fridge. It’s simple but delicious. Served with rice and a vegetable side dish, it makes a perfect, healthy meal.

Stir-fried chicken with cucumber

2 boneless chicken thighs
1/3 of an English cucumber
1 celery stick
1 clove garlic
1-inch ginger
1 green onion
1 small red chili
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon potato flour
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon chicken stock

1. On a chopping board, whack the chicken thighs with the back of your knife to tenderize them, then cut into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a bowl and add the salt, 1 teaspoon of the potato floud, 1 teaspoon of the wine, 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons water and combine.

2. Cut the cucumber piece in half lengthwise and then cut into 1/4-inch strips. Cut the celery into strips to match the cucumber. Peel and thinly slice the garlic and ginger. Cut the green onion and chili into thin slices on the diagonal. Combine the sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon potato flour, remaining 1 teaspoon wine, remaining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, vinegar, and chicken stock in a small bowl.

3. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry. When the pieces have almost cooked, add the garlic, ginger, green onion, and chili and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the cucumber and celery and stir-fry for 1 minute.

4. Add the sauce and stir quickly to coat the chicken and vegetables. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Thai-Style Chicken Fried Rice

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Looking for something easy and delicious to hit the spot mid-week? Something to brighten your drab Monday, perhaps? Look no further. This fried rice couldn’t be easier to pull together and well, fried rice is the ultimate comfort food. Weeknight eating isn’t so bad after all.

Thai-style chicken fried rice

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound chicken thigh
1 teaspoon lemongrass, minced
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 eggs
4 cups steamed jasmine rice, cooked and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Thai seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths
salt
pepper
1/2 cup fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon minced bird’s eye chilis

1. Place the chicken in a bowl, add half the garlic, all of the minced lemongrass, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Mix and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from brine and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. Make the prik nam pla serving sauce: in a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, lime juice, chilies, and remaining teaspoon garlic. Set aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat and then add the oil. Add the onion and stir-fry until softened, then add the chicken and stir-fry until almost cooked, about 4 minutes.

3. Crack in the eggs and mix with the chicken and onion. Once the egg resembles a soft scramble, add the rice, sugar, Thai seasoning sauce, and oyster sauce, stirring the rice to distribute the sauce evenly and break up the egg. Continue to stir-fry until rice has taken on a slightly toasted color, about 2 or 3 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat, add the green onion and a pinch of pepper, and toss. Serve with the prik nam pla sauce.

Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup): Version Two

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So, you’ve toiled laboriously and made a too-good-for-words chili sauce for version one of the tom kha gai I take it, right? Now try this version of tom kha gai, adapted from Night + Market, where I go off recipe to employ an easier (albeit less authentic) way to produce a just-as-delicious-but-tastes-a-little-different soup.

Don’t be deterred; this version takes less than half the time as the original to produce results.

Tom kha gai - version two

Ingredients:

1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves removed and root trimmed
3 cups chicken broth
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 1/2 14-ounce cans coconut milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup oyster mushrooms, torn into pieces
3/4 pound chicken thighs
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons jarred Thai-style chili sauce
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh bird’s eye chilis
4 tablespoons lime juice
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt
Pepper

1. Mince 1 tablespoon of the lemongrass and set the rest of the lemongrass aside. Place the chicken in a bowl, add the garlic, minced lemongrass, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough cold water to just cover the chicken. Mix and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove from brine and cut into bite-size pieces.

2. In the meantime, carefully bruise the remaining lemongrass with a heavy object, then slice the stalk crosswise at an angle into 2-inch lengths.

3. In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water and the chicken broth to a boil. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, and bouillon cube, stirring until dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, mushrooms, and chicken and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and the chicken is cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chili sauce, chili oil, and lime juice and remove from the heat.

5. Serve hot in individual bowls and garnish with cilantro and green onions.

Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup): Version One

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Ever try two different recipes for the same dish and they’re both really, really good? But really, really different?

I love tom kha gai, or Thai lemongrass and coconut chicken soup, and I’ve tried my hand at two different versions. Inspired by my travels to Thailand, I typically hand-make my own nam prik-esque chili sauce for this soup, which I’m including here. But I have another version of this soup that uses an uh, not so traditional route. I’ll include that in the next update.

Try both out and decide for yourself: which version is tastier? I know I can’t decide.

tom kha gai

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Thai dried red chiles
1/3 cup cup shallots, unpeeled
1/3 cup garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup fish sauce
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoons brown sugar
2 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 stalk lemongrass, inner white part only, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 1/2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced 1
/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Thai chiles, seeded and very thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. To make the nam prik: Place a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat, add the chiles, and dry-roast them, moving them around as necessary to prevent them from burning. After about 3 or 4 minutes, they’ll darken and become brittle. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool.

2. In the meantime, slice the unpeeled shallots lengthwise in half. In the same skillet over medium heat, all the shallots and garlic and dry-roast until browned on one side; turn over and dry-roast on the other side. When they’re softened and roasted. about 8 minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Break off the chili stems and discard them, then break up the chiles and place in a food processor. Peel the shallots and garlic and add to the food processor. Process to a smooth paste.

4. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and then add the paste. Stir the paste as it heats in the oil and absorbs it. After about 5 minutes, it will have darkened slightly and give off a warm, roasted chili aroma. Remove from the heat, stir in one teaspoon of the fish sauce, and let cool to room temperature.

5. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the remaining 1/4 cup fish sauce.

6. In a large saucepan, combine the stock with the 3 tablespoons of the nam prik chili paste, sugar, lime leaves and lemongrass and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add the chicken and fish sauce to the saucepan along with the shiitakes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaves. Stir in the lime juice and chiles. Ladle the soup into bowls, with the cilantro and serve.

Gai Pad Krapow

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Gai pad krapow is one of my favorite Thai dishes but it wasn’t until I visited Bangkok a couple of years ago that I tried it with long beans mixed into the savory, spicy minced chicken. I was won over, and ever since then, I make it like this at home too.

Serve it with a fried egg on top alongside rice for some extra oomph.

gai pad krapow

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 birds eye chiles, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup cut long beans
1 teaspoon Thai seasoning sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup Thai basil leaves
4 eggs, fried or sunny side up
Pepper, to taste

1. Heat a wok over high heat and then add the oil. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry until cooked, about three minutes. Add the chiles, garlic, and sugar, stirring to coat. Add the long beans, Thai seasoning sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce and stir-fry for another three minutes. The chicken should be cooked and the long beans should be tender-crisp.

2. Remove from the heat, add the basil, pepper, and stir to combine. Transfer to a serving plate and serve alongside steamed rice and fried eggs.