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Friday, August 16, 2013

Caramelized Chicken with Coconut Rice

The way I imagined this dish to look was a red/yellow color combination, but I didn’t have enough time to follow through on my initial plan to cook the chicken into red, so  I opted for a caramelized version of the meat, still in contrast with the coconut rice, that had a powerful yellow color from using turmeric. All of this combined with a fragrant green from using chives makes a lovely dish, with a gorgeous visual appeal, that also packs some great taste.
For the rice, you’re going to need:
250 grams of jasmine rice (or basmati if you don’t have jasmine), 
150 ml of chicken stock, 
400 ml of coconut milk, 
2 tbs of turmeric, 
1 tbs of ground cumin, 
1 garlic clove, 
1 medium hot chili, 
1 thumb size piece of ginger, 
the juice of 1 lemon, 
2 tbs fish sauce, 
chives for garnishing. 

Considering the fact that the meat for this dish came from an home grown chicken’s breast, I deboned it and used the bones to make the stock, with some onion, carrot, peppers, tomato, all spice, cloves, salt, pepper. The advantage of making your own stock is that you can infuse it with the flavors you want, in such way that making rice can be as easy as just boiling it in it, without added labor. So, start of by bringing the stock to a boil on medium heat, at which point add in the turmeric, cumin, garlic – diced, peppers – cut however you feel like it, fish sauce, lemon juice, grated ginger. 

Mix everything for 2 minutes, then add the rice and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to minimum, cover the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated. Check the rice from time to time, stir in, making sure it doesn’t stick. I like to keep the rice close to an almost risotto-like consistency, but not that creamy, mainly because you’re using jasmine/basmati and not risotto specific rice. Keep in mind that the resulting rice will not be perfectly fluffy, as the coconut milk isn’t called like that for nothing, it will bring a cheesy consistency to the rice. Remember the chives? Chop them over the rice for a green note, but also an important element to the whole taste of the dish. Now, there are some pretty oblivious things that you can change straight away in this recipe. Add coconut flakes if you want, I personally hate those, use saffron and not (just) turmeric to color the dish or replace the fish sauce with just salt or soy sauce if you don’t like the taste. Or add some ground coriander or some 5 spice condiment, whatever you want that still keeps the rice in an Asian range.

For the meat, I had 300 grams of chicken breast meat, cut into strips. My initial idea was to make a beet stock in which I was supposed to boil the meat for until they would get a light red color, the give it a quick stir fry. Now, I have to say, I love beets, they’re delish, but they do take long enough to cook/use. So,  instead, I changed the recipe mid way. 

For the ingredients: 
the meat, as seen above, 
1 medium beet, cut into small cubes, 
2 pieces of ginger, half the size of a thumb each, 
2 tbs of dark sugar, 
2tbs of soy sauce, 

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Bring the beet and one piece of ginger (just leave it whole, don’t bother to chop it) to a boil in some water and let it simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the meat, and let it boil in the beet water for around 12 minutes. Next, remove the meat from the water (it should have a rather orange color) let it steam  for a bit and prepare to stir fry it. Use some sesame or peanut oil, about 3 tbs, heat it up, then pop the chicken in with the other piece of ginger (finely grated), the sugar and pepper. Make sure to coat the meat really well in the sugar, cook for around 2-3 minutes, until the sugar melts. Add in the soy sauce, coat the meat well in it, cook for another minute. Remove from heat and plate next to the rice, chives on top.


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