chop suey thai style


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
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


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


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

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


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.



white chicken chili


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


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


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.


chicken in mustard and tarragon sauce


You’ll need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 skinless chicken legs
1/2 tablespoon sweet and hot mustard (can use Dijon)
1/2 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish (can use 2 teaspoons dried tarragon)
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream (can use 1 cup plain Greek style yogurt)
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Special Equipment:
DSC05374Oven-proof pan with a lid. This means the handle is metal and can stand high temperatures in the oven. If you haven’t got such a pan, you can use a 9×13 inch pan covered tightly with aluminum foil



Heat oven to 350˚F.

Skin legs and trim off excess fat. Season with salt and cracked pepper. Set aside.

Cook’s Note: To skin a chicken leg, grasp the bony end and the fat end with paper towels. Pull skin down from the fat to the bony end and pull right off.

DSC05371Heat oil in an ovenproof pan. Sauté chicken legs until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the pan. Don’t discard the oil and the browned bits in the pan.



To make the sauce, add the mustards, tarragon, cream, and chicken broth to the pan. Stir to combine scraping up the browned bits. Bring to a simmer then return the chicken to the pan. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken.

Cover the pan and bake 20 minutes. Uncover the pan and bake 5-10 minutes more or until sauce is thickened and reduced.

DSC05372Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper. Chop up about a tablespoon tarragon leaves and sprinkle on top of the chicken and sauce.

Cook’s Note: You can add 1/2 cup of chopped celery to the sauce while it is cooking. After the sauce is done and just before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cilantro and scallion that has been chopped fine.

Serving Suggestions:
• 8-grain or multi-grain bread
• steamed broccoli and sautéed spinach.


chicken kebabs with oven-roasted vegetables, lemon dressing, and tzatziki sauce


We ate Chinese twice this weekend. To change things up, I made chicken kebabs that had been marinated in yogurt and paired them with oven-roasted vegetables. Since the vegetables cook at different times, I parboiled them. That is to say, I cooked them in boiling salted water so that they could roast in the oven at the same time. The caveat to this recipe is not to marinate the chicken more than 6 hours because the yogurt tenderizes the meat; any longer and the meat turns to mush. Marinated for 3 hours, the grilled chicken turned out moist and tender and so savory. To serve, all you do is sprinkle the lemon dressing on the meat and eat with tzatziki sauce on the side.

Chicken Kebabs
Prep time: 20 minutes
Marinating: 3 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes

1 boneless skinless chicken thigh cut into strips 2 inches wide
3 cups chicken tenders cut into thirds
1/2 cup plain low fat or fat free yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 small onion, quartered
1/2 cup sweet bell pepper cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
6 shiitake mushrooms, whole
6 small tomatoes, whole
6-8 metal skewers

Lemon Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Sugar, optional (only if the dressing is too tart)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups cucumber, sliced
1/2 cup plain low fat or non fat yogurt
1/4 cup green pepper
1/4 cup onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 heaping tablespoons each fresh herbs, e.g. mint, dill, cilantro
2 tablespoons white vinegar, plus more if it’s not tart enough
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Sugar, optional (only if the sauce is too tart)

  1. Make the lemon dressing and the tzatziki sauce. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together until they emulsify. Stir in the garlic and rosemary, and season to taste. Put all the ingredients for the tzatziki sauce in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is chunky and season to taste.  Refrigerate the dressing and the sauce until ready to eat.
  2. Marinate the chicken in the yogurt mixture and refrigerate. Take it out of the refrigerator and thread 2-3 pieces of meat on the skewer, leaving a little space in between. Top the end of the skewer with sweet pepper, onion, mushroom and tomato. Repeat process until the chicken is finished. It makes about 8-10 skewers. Discard the marinade.
  3. Grill in a 200˚C/450˚F oven for about 10 minutes or until the edges of the meat and vegetables become slightly charred.

Oven-Roasted Vegetables
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 22 minutes, 30 seconds
Roasting time: 20 minutes

1 daikon, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
1 large potato, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 cups broccoli florets
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat the oven 200˚C/450˚F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

Boil a pot of lightly salted water. Cook the daikon 5 minutes, the carrots 7 minutes, and the potatoes 10 minutes. Dunk the broccoli in the water for just 30 seconds or until they turn bright green.

Shock the vegetables in an ice bath to stop the cooking and set the color.

Drain the vegetables and pat dry. Put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Put vegetables in a single layer on the tray. You may need 2 trays to do this. Roast vegetables in oven about 20-25 minutes or until they begin to brown.