massaman curry grilled chicken sandwiches

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Massaman Curry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches–I forgot the cilantro!

This recipe was inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe for grilled chicken baguettes. I used a store-bought massaman curry paste by Blue Elephant, a famous traditional Thai restaurant in Bangkok. Massaman curry is a Thai Muslim dish;  a rich brick-red curry sauce spiced with cardamom and star anise. Though I used chicken thighs, this recipe can also be made using chicken breasts but I happened to have two chicken thighs on hand. It makes for a quick lunch or light supper for two.

Massaman Curry Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (inspired by Martha Stewart)
Makes 2 sandwiches

1 tablespoon Massaman Curry paste, e.g. Blue Elephant
Seasoning salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/3 cup cucumbers sliced on the diagonal
Zest and juice of one small lime
1 tablespoon red onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons salted peanuts, crushed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3-6 sprigs cilantro
Cooking spray
1/2 a baguette

Pat dry the chicken thighs. Season the chicken thighs with seasoning salt then spread the curry paste into both sides of the chicken, pressing it into the meat. Set aside for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

Put the sliced cucumbers and onions into a small bowl. Add the lime juice and toss. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the mayonnaise and the lime zest and mix well. Set aside.

Heat the grill pan over medium high flame. When the pan is hot, remove it from the flame and spray it with cooking spray. Return it to the flame and add the chicken thighs. Cook on one side 3-4 minutes or until grill marks appear on the chicken. Flip and cook for 3 minutes more on the second side. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and slice into 1/4 inch slivers. Set aside. Don’t wash the grill pan.

Split the baguette in two and toast the sliced sides in the grill pan until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and generously spread the lime zest-mayonnaise mixture on both toasted sides. Spread the chicken on top of the mayonnaise. Top with cucumber and onion, some cilantro sprigs, and sprinkle with crushed peanuts.

dinner for two: baked chicken and rice

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This simple chicken dish is complete. All you have to do is make a salad to go with it. The method is quite straightforward: Season the chicken, brown it, season the rice then bake the chicken and rice together. The rice reminds me of my mother’s version of rice pilaf, cooked with onion in chicken broth. It’s so good!

Baked Chicken and Rice

4 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 to 1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 to 1 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long grain rice (recommend: Thai jasmine rice)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock, preferably homemade
salt and pepper

Special equipment: medium oven-ready pot with a lid

Preheat oven to 375˚F/190˚C

Pat dry the trimmed chicken thighs and season with seasoning salt and dried parsley. Let stand 10-20 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

In the pot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. When it is hot, put the chicken thighs in the pot and fry, skin side down until it is browned, 5 minutes. Turn over the chicken and brown the other side for 5 more minutes. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot. You should have about a tablespoon of oil and fat in the bottom of the pot. Remove any excess oil or add more oil if there isn’t enough.

Add the garlic and onion and cook them, stirring, over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Pour in the chicken broth/stock, stirring until well combined. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Put the chicken back in the pot, skin-side up, and cover it.

Put the pot in the oven and bake 35-40 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and all the liquid is absorbed. Serve the chicken on a bed of rice.

chop suey thai style

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A friend of mine shared with me an NPR article on chop suey Mexican style. This fusion dish blending Chinese-American chop suey with Mexican beans and rice inspired me to create a Thai version. BTW, there is no such thing as an orthodox chop suey recipe; its very nature is improvisational–you use whatever is on hand.

Chop Suey Thai Style

1 cup (8 oz) Thai Jasmine Rice
water
1-2 tablespoons Knorr chicken powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved and cut into 1/4 inch chuncks
1 onion, peeled and halved then sliced thin
12 carrot sticks, about 3 inches long
8 fresh whole baby corn (can used canned)
12 asparagus spears, about 3 inches long
1-3 goat chilies to taste (can substitute jalapeño)
3/4-1 cup water
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken powder
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
Fish sauce to taste

Put rice in rice cooker bowl and add enough water to come up to the first knuckle on your finger. Sprinkle the chicken powder on top. Stir. Cook as directed by the rice cooker manufacturer. Keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high. Stir-fry the onion and the carrot sticks. When the onion browns slightly, add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Add the baby corn. Reduce heat to medium and cover the skillet/wok for a few minutes. Add the asparagus spears and stir-fry until bright green.

Mix the water and chicken powder with the cornstarch. Add to the wok/skillet with the goat chilies or jalapeño peppers. Stir until thickened. Taste and season with fish sauce.

Serve hot over rice.

jamaican curry chicken

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This is a light and flavorful curry, not at all heavy. It’s one of the dishes I grew up eating in Jamaica–just smelling the spices takes me home again.

Jamaican Curry Chicken 

3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, cut into chunks
1 1/2 medium onions, peeled, halved then quartered
2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder (I recommend Betapac)
salt and pepper
4 chicken legs
4 chicken thighs boneless with skin on
2 chicken breasts boneless with skin on
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups water

In a large bowl, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper to taste and 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder. Set aside.

In a large Dutch pot, put the potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer potatoes for 10-15 minutes or until just softened. Drain potatoes and set aside.

In the now empty Dutch pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil, skin side down. Add the vegetables and 2 1/2 cups water. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid and taste. Add up to a cupful of water if you want more gravy. Add the rest of the curry powder if you want a deeper orange color to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes will have thickened the sauce, but if you want it thicker, add a little cornstarch to some of the gravy and mix it together. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Serve chicken curry hot over rice.

chicken and rice soup

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Being Chinese I hate to waste food. I roasted a whole chicken, and after carving it up, saved the carcass to make chicken and rice soup. They say chicken soup is good for the soul; well, it is also a good light supper with a salad on the side.

Chicken and Rice Soup
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

For the broth:
1 carcass of whole roast chicken
1 small onion peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 tablespoon salt

For the soup:
1/2 cup carrot cut into cubes
1/2 cup diced celery, if desired
1 cup cooked rice
Scallion for garnish

Pick the meat off the bones of the carcass, cut meat into small dice, and set aside.

Put chicken carcass, onion, peppercorns, water and salt in a large Dutch pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to a simmer about 45 minutes.

Slit open coffee filters and line a large strainer with them. Place lined strainer over a large heat proof bowl. Slowly pour the broth into the strainer and discard the solids.

Pour 4 cups broth into a medium sauce pan. Add the carrots and celery, if using,  and cook 5 minutes. Add the rice. Reserve the remainder of the broth for another use.

Spoon soup into bowls. Top with diced chicken and scallion. Serve right away.

rice and peas and fricassee chicken

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Black Bean Soup with Rice and Peas and Fricassee Chicken

Every cook in Jamaica has his/her own version of rice and peas. There are recipes that you cook on the stove top and those you cook in a rice cooker. But every rice and peas recipe that I know of uses salt beef or pork to make the broth, except this one. I thought I would try it to see how it tastes. Andy said he missed the smoky flavor of the salt beef, but otherwise, it was full of flavor.

Rice and peas is almost always accompanied with chicken. The fricassee chicken recipe that follows is my mother’s. It’s very simple and relies on seasoning salt to flavor the meat. Then you add tomatoes, garlic and onions, salt and pepper, and that’s it.

Rice and Peas (adapted from The Essential NYTimes Cookbook)
Servings: 8

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-4 cloves garlic, minced
1-4 scallions, sliced thin
2 cups jasmine rice
one 14-oz can unsweetened coconut milk, well shaken
1 1/2 cups water
1 sprig thyme
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper or Habañero pepper
two 15 oz cans small red beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups dried)
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

If using dried beans, soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, then cook in fresh water to cover in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch pot with a tight fitting lid over medium heat.

Add garlic and scallion and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary to prevent browning.

Add the rice, coconut milk, water, thyme, Scotch bonnet, beans, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then stir well, reduce the heat to very low. Cover tightly and cook without disturbing for 25 to 30 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is very tender.

Taste. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Fluff rice before serving. Serve with a fricassee of chicken.

Fricassee Chicken
4 chicken legs
3 chicken thighs, preferably boneless and trimmed of excess fat
Seasoning salt
3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups onions, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

In a large Dutch pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high. Sprinkle seasoning salt generously on the skin and undersides of the chicken. Brown the chicken pieces then set aside.

To the oil remaining in the pot, add the tomatoes, garlic, and onions. Cook until the onions are just beginning to soften. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a boil on medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes or until the chicken pieces are done. Taste and adjust seasoning.

lettuce wraps with chicken

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This is a great accompaniment for the Soba with Pork in Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce. It’s salty sweet and crunchy. Crisp fresh lettuce leaves make this dish a side or an appetizer.

Lettuce Wraps with Chicken (adapted from South Beach Diet)

1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
1 chicken breast, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup meat)
1/2 cup finely chopped Chinese celery, leaves removed and discarded
1/4 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or mirin)
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
12 medium and small leaves romaine lettuce
Whole salted peanuts

Heat oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink. Remove chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Add Chinese celery, peppers, garlic, and ginger, and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender.

Return the chicken to the wok and add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and tamarind concentrate. Cook for 1 minute or until heated through.

Evenly divide the chicken mixture among the lettuce leaves. Garnish with the peanuts.

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white chicken chili

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The last time I made this chili was in New York where all the Mexican chilies are available, so I’ve had to improvise and use what was available in Bangkok. I used sweet bell pepper, goat chili, and green chili in this recipe. It was not bad!

White Chicken Chili

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

3 pounds boneless chicken breast with skin on
seasoning salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil, plus more if needed
2 medium green bell peppers
3 medium goat chilies
2 medium onions
2 medium green chilies, chopped fine
6 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used 3 cups water, 2 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 small lime quartered
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with seasoning salt. Be sure to get some under the skin too.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Fry the chicken, skin side down 4 minutes or until golden brown. Turn, and fry on the second side 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool slightly then remove the skin and discard.

In the workbowl of a food processor, put half the bell peppers, goat chilies, and onions. Process until fine. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Repeat with the remaining peppers, chilies, and onions. Add to the first batch in the bowl. Set aside. Don’t wash out the bowl. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside.

Re-heat the liquid in the pot and add half the chili-onion mixture, all the garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. Cook 10 minutes or until the mixture cooks down to one cup. Remove from heat and scrape into the food processor along with 1 cup of the cannellini beans, and 1 cup chicken broth. Process until smooth.

Scrape into the Dutch oven and add the chicken back to the pot. Add the remaining chili-onion mixture, the remaining 2 cups of chicken broth, and half the green chilies. Then cook 15-20 minutes or until the chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside until cool. Add the remaining cannellini to the pot and cook 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. Taste, and add the remaining green chilies if desired. Shred the chicken breasts and add it back to the pot. Turn off the heat. Serve with limes and cilantro, no need to add additional salt.

soy-glazed chicken

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This recipe is a family favorite. I found it in a cookbook whose title I forgot and over the years I’ve perfected it. This recipe never fails to disappoint for the juiciness and flavor of the chicken. Five Spice Powder is available from Asian supermarkets; it has a wonderful anise scent without being overpowering. It adds just the right amount of flavor to the chicken.

Soy-Glazed Chicken
Marinating time: 8-12 hours
Roasting time: 35-45 minutes

1 x 3 pound whole roasting chicken
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoons Five Spice Powder

In a small bowl, blend the soy sauces, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, oil, and Five Spice Powder. Put the chicken in a large zipper lock bag and pour the soy sauce mixture over the chicken. Close the bag and turn the chicken so that the marinade gets evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 8-12 hours, turning once half way through.

Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C. Prepare a roasting pan with rack. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place it on the rack, tucking the wings back. Discard the marinade.

Roast 10 to 15 minutes at 450˚F/230˚C then reduce the heat to 350˚F/175˚C. This crisps the skin and the soy sauces caramelize it. Continue roasting for 25 to 30 minutes. At 25 minutes, test the thigh and breast with an instant read thermometer. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165˚F. Be careful not to over cook the chicken or the breast will dry out.

Carve the chicken and serve it with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce for chicken (Also available at Asian supermarkets), and a spicy chili dipping sauce (recipe to follow).

Spicy Chili Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 large cloves garlic
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
3 tablespoons water

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

braised chicken with tomatoes and olives

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This dish is light and flavorful, served with bacon wrapped cabbage wedges and spaghettini with garlic and lemons. It’s the perfect supper for a weeknight or date night!

Braised Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives (adapted from epicurious)

8 chicken thighs with skin and bones (2 1/2 lb)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (14 oz/400g) can crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and sliced in half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Garnish: fresh thyme leaves

Accompaniment: spaghettini with garlic and lemon

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken in 2 batches, about 8 minutes, transferring them as they are browned to a plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet. Add onion, garlic, and thyme to fat remaining in skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, olives, salt, and pepper and return chicken to skillet. Simmer, covered, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Garnish with thyme leaves.

Cabbage with Bacon

To make the cabbage with bacon, cut the cabbage into quarters then cut each quarter in half. Sprinkle each wedge with salt and pepper. Wrap each wedge with half a strip of bacon and bake in a 350˚F/175˚C oven for 10 minutes or until the bacon crisps and the edges of the cabbage darken and brown.

Spaghettini with Garlic and Lemons (adapted from epicurious)

1/2 pound of spaghettini
1 cup reserved cooking water
zest of two lemons
4 large cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cook the spaghettini in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the rest.

In a large 12 inch skillet or wok, heat 1/2 cup olive oil with garlic and pepper flakes until the garlic is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the zest, salt and pepper. Add the cooked spaghettini to the skillet and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning.