Friday, 13 January 2012

Truly Splendid Thai Spicy Chicken with Coconut Rice

I LOVE having friends over for dinner! All the preparation, while drinking a beer and listening to loud 80's rock music on my stereo has to be my all-time biggest passion. My wife, Mrs Ribeye (not a cook, in any way at all), thinks I'm nuts.

You will find my recipes easy to make (especially after your third vodka cranberry) quick to prepare and, most importantly, authentic to the region they come from. We have travelled to lands far and wide to share with you our favourite street food, bistro fare and prix fixe menus, so that you can experience some delicious exotic treats and show your friends what a wonderful host you are!

Why 'under £3 per serving'? Well, 'austerity' is my new buzz-word. I love it. As in:

'Can you come to my works drinks tonight with me? It's Paul's birthday. You know Paul?'
'Sorry darling, but no. I'm feeling like I need to embrace 'austerity' at the moment.'

You've got to love that austerity.

NB. I never buy 'value' ingredients. I prefer to buy cheaper cuts of good quality meat or free range chicken than buy a bright pink sirloin steak or a battery farm chicken breast. Anyway, treated correctly, these cheaper cuts are far more tasty.

For my first recipe, here is a simple but delicious start to my new blog. Mrs Ribeye and I went to Koh Samui on our honeymoon and fell in love... with this chicken dish. So to re-ignite the romance, I bought the ingredients from Church Street market in north London and after a few minutes cooking in my kitchen, was transported back to the Lamai Town street cafe where it all began...

Don't worry about the repugnant smell while it's cooking - it's not you, it's just the shrimp paste. I promise you that when it's finished cooking, you'll just love the authentic, fragrant, savoury taste (but open the kitchen window for a minute or two before the wife comes home from those works drinks).

My costings for this culinary treat, came to around £2 per generous serving. That's right, £2.

Serves 4

Thai Spicy Chicken


Spice Paste:
1 large shallot or medium onion.
Thumb-sized piece of ginger/galangal
3 cloves of garlic
3 stalks of lemon grass
2 red chillies
2 dried chillies
2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts
1 tablespoon of shrimp paste
1 tablespoon of fresh or powdered turmeric
6 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

Remaining ingredients:
1 kg bone-in, free range chicken thighs/legs
Pint of water
1 teaspoon of salt

Crush, pound or mince the spice paste ingredients and then fry in a wok or large frying pan on a moderate heat until the paste is cooked through, but not burnt (approx 10 minutes).

Add the chicken and brown it gently all over.

Add the water and salt and leave uncovered for an hour approx, on a low to moderate heat, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through.


Coconut Rice


225g Thai or Basmati rice
1 can coconut milk
Boiling water from the kettle
1 teaspoon of salt

Start preparing the rice when the chicken has about half an hour left to cook.

With most rice dishes, ensure that you use two parts liquid to one part rice and cook until the liquid is absorbed. However, with this recipe, the coconut milk is fairly thick, so a 2.5:1 (two and a half to one) liquid to rice ratio would be ideal.

Boil a kettle of water. Place the rice in a large jug, measure with your eye the level it came to in the jug, and tip into a saucepan. Put the coconut milk into the same jug and then add enough boiling water to make up approx 2.5 times the volume of rice, gauging the volume by using your eye-measuring line you used for the rice. Pour into the saucepan to join the rice and add the salt.

Cook on a low to moderate heat, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick. When the rice looks almost cooked (approx 20 minutes), put clingfilm over the saucepan and take it off the heat. In 5 further minutes, the rice will be perfect.

Plert-plern gap ('Enjoy')!

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