It’s gai yang, but where’s the khao neow and somtam?

We’ve been good, AJ and I. Since we’ve been back in New York City on the low carb-low fat diet we haven’t had skin, chicken skin that is, for the last four months. It was time for a treat. I figured if I’m going to break the diet, then I should make it worthwhile. I decided to make  gai yang or roast chicken, Thai style, because I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. It didn’t disappoint; the flavors were authentic, the chicken juicy. It just wasn’t fiery enough!

Purists will know that gai yang is traditionally served with papaya salad (somtam)and sticky rice (khao neow). Well, I  committed a heresy. Instead of papaya salad, we had a spinach, strawberry, and hearts of palm salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of the sticky rice, I made stir-fried baby bok choy in garlic and ginger and seasoned it with Maggi sauce. Thus, I assuaged the guilt with some low calorie veggie sides.

The original recipe called for grilling on an outdoor barbecue. But since I live in a city apartment, I have parted ways from the original and broiled/baked the chicken instead. I have also added two chilies to the dipping sauce. What’s a dipping sauce without some heat?

Gai Yang or Thai Style Roast Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken and Brine

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 12 ounces each (I used 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 chilies, chopped (optional)

Rub

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

1. To brine the chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. For the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
3. To make and apply the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl; work mixture with fingers to thoroughly combine. Slide fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tablespoons mixture under skin. Thoroughly rub even layer of mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including bottom and sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing grill.
4. To broil the chicken: Cover the broiling pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken pieces skin side up and broil 10 minutes or until the skin is golden or blackened. Turn the heat to 350˚F and put the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F  160˚F on an instant read thermometer.

strawberry, spinach, and hearts of palm salad

My cousin Cathy got a tin of hearts of palm so she wrote our cousins’ group wondering how to serve it. I had this recipe on my Wait List to try and her SOS just prodded me out of procrastination mode. This is Paula Deen’s recipe but I tweaked it. Now I’m not fond of hearts of palm. To me it has a metallic taste, which probably comes from the tin can.  Nevertheless, I found this salad to be quite delicious. The strawberries were tart and the salad dressing had just the right proportion of sweetness to tartness that totally disguised the metallic taste of the hearts of palm. So on St. Valentine’s Day, show you love somebody–but not with chocolate, with strawberries, spinach and hearts of palm!

Ingredients

For the salad dressing
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used EVOO and reduced the amount of oil  from 1 cup)
1/2 small red onion, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika

For the salad
1 1/2 pounds fresh baby spinach (I added some mixed greens to the spinach)
1 can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Directions
Prepare the dressing.  Combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a small non-reactive saucepan and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cooled, whisk in the oil, onion, poppy seeds, dry mustard and paprika until thoroughly combined. Set dressing aside.

Assemble the salad ingredients. In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, hearts of palm, strawberries, and nuts, if using. When ready to serve, add some of the dressing, and toss gently. Serve the remaining dressing alongside the salad so diners may add more, if desired.