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Too Hot To Cook?

Wed Aug 15, 2007

Wednesday. It might just be the hardest weekday to muster the energy to cook. Especially in the summer. Especially on a hot, sticky day when you’d much prefer to sit be sitting on the edge of a pool, your toes grazing refreshingly cool water, an ice cold coconut laced drink in hand. But if your local community pool, with its screaming children and noxious chlorine aroma is a far cry from your fantasy and you’ve used up all of your “honey can we order in credits” for the week, you’ll probably have to suck it up and make dinner.Sticking with the coconut motif, last Wednesday I made Chicken and Basil in Coconut Broth from Donna Hay’s “Flavors” cookbook. It was simple, fast and tasty with a few tweaks and tasted fantastic as Thursday’s lunch.

3 cups (24 fl oz) unsweetened coconut milk3 cups chicken stock2 tablespoons shredded ginger2 red chilies, seeded and chopped1 tbsp fish sauce3 cilantro roots, bruised3 chicken breast fillets, sliced1 cup shredded basil3 ½ oz bean sprouts

(I left out the chicken stock on accident and used Serrano chili peppers because I couldn’t find fresh red chilies at the farmer’s market or Whole Foods. I also used one pound of Mary’s air-chilled chicken tenderloins instead of breasts and skipped the bean sprouts altogether.)Directions: Pour coconut cream (make sure it’s not “light” coconut milk), stock, ginger, chilies, fish sauce and cilantro leaves, lightly rubbed between your fingers to release the oils, into a large sauté pan over medium heat. Bring to a slow boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for about five minutes.I tasted the broth at this point and decided to add a little salt and pepper and a splash of chili oil for some extra heat.Add the chicken to the pan, stir, then cover. Cook, stirring occasionally and flipped the chicken so it cooks evenly, until cooked through, about five minutes. Stir in basil and serve over steamed basmati or white rice. Finish with a sprinkling of dried chili flake or Sriacha, a Thai chili sauce. Serves four.

Dinner Party

Chicken in Coconut Basil Broth

Results: Leaving the stock out made for a richer broth, touched with light ginger spice and a little chili heat. The smaller cuts of natural chicken cooked fast and cut prep time down, since I didn’t have to slice them. As with any dish, I would recommend tasting as I cook, adding chilies or additional cilantro for more robust flavors. Total cooking time, including prep, was less than a half an hour. My favorite Thai place can’t deliver that quickly. And the ultimate taste tester in my house, Neal, cleaned his plate (and emptied his glass of the Gr üVe mentioned in the next section). If I ever made the same recipe twice, I’d make this one again.Wine pairing: I love drinking crisp, mineral wines with a little fruit when my food has a little heat. At around $10.99 for a liter bottle, the 2006 Berger Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal Kremstal, Austria was a great fit for my Chicken in Basil Coconut Broth. Eric Asimov, in The Pour, his blog for the New York Times, called it, “Fresh and expressive, with citrus, floral and mineral flavors that linger in the mouth.” I found it slightly herbaceous and a little briny, with a clean and crisp minerality that complemented the spice of the dish and cut through the rich, creamy, stock-free coconut broth.

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One Response to “Too Hot To Cook?”

 
  1. Nicole Says:

    That sounds great! I’ve never cooked out of a Donna Hay book but I love the photos so much!

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