I call this Tom Nom Nom Nom because it’s kind of like a Tom Yum soup, only it’s solid, and really fragrant rather than spicy. That said, it’d take chilli like a boss, and become an unstoppable spicy fireball juggernaut. When I say it’s full of lemongrass, I mean it’s really packed with lemongrass, so as that combines with the ginger, coriander & mint it makes your whole house smell amazing. It’s based on a green pepper sofrito, so not too different from a few of my other dishes, only it uses green capsicum instead of red. The fragrant stuff goes in with all that, and you can really play with the balance as it gets started to suit your tastes. For example, I’m not a huge fan of coriander, so I play that one down in the early stages of cooking. The flavour softens considerably after it’s been cooked, which is the only reason I include it at all.
For a slow-cooked warming dish like this, it tastes really fresh and light. I serve it up on brown rice, but it’d go just as well over white jasmine rice. This lot will do a generous dinner for two.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 2 skinless chicken breasts. Thigh falls apart better, breast is lighter. If you’re using breast, slice it along the fillet to make lots of tenderloin-sized pieces.
- 2 onions, chopped finely.
- 2 green capsicum, also chopped finely.
- At least 2 stems of lemongrass, sliced thinly then chopped to bejeezis. Woody bastard.
- A little less than a thumb of ginger, sliced like blades of grass then chopped.
- 2 cloves of garlic.
- Juice from 1 lime
- Fresh coriander (chopped stalks to cook, chopped leaves to serve).
- Fresh mint (chopped leaves to cook and serve).
- About an espresso cup of unsalted, roasted peanuts, also chopped to bejeezis.
- A red capsicum, sliced finely.
- A dash of soy sauce.
- Some cooking sake or white wine.
- Chillies if you want.
- About a pint of chicken stock.
As a matter of preparation, stick your chicken in a bowl with some sesame oil, soy sauce and a dash of cooking sake or any other cooking wine.
Like with any dish like this of mine, the sofrito comes first. If you’ve been reading me for a little while, you should be relatively familiar with the first stage of this process, as I make pretty good use of it. Start softening the onions up in the pot on a high heat with a bit of light oil like peanut (um yeah, hi, you can use canola as well if you’re like @PeanutFreeMom and her fictional son) and a pinch of salt. Throw in the garlic, ginger, peanuts (um yeah, hi), and lemongrass and green pepper once it’s rolling. Play with the quantity of the aromatic stuff to suit your taste. Not crazy about ginger? Back it off. Got a bit of a cumin fetish? Lob some in. Don’t be shy with that lemongrass though. The reason it goes in so early is to soften it up. It’s pretty woody and it needs a long time to break down. Once it smells right to your taste, it’s right. Chilli would go in at this point as well if you’re including it.
You want to cook this mix until it starts to brown. Free it up with the cooking sake, then push it to the side of the pot once it’s got a fair bit of brown through it.
Lug in a dash more oil to cover the clear floor of the pot, and brown your chicken. Just long enough to brown up the surface. Once it’s had a bit of a cook on both sides, you can stir that sofrito through, add a splash of soy sauce and the chicken stock (it should cover the meat). Bring it to the boil, then back the heat right off. Pour in the lime juice, throw in a good sized pinch of chopped coriander stems and mint leaves (again, you be the judge) and put a lid on the pot. Adjust the heat so it’s just bubbling gently under there, and forget about it for half an hour or so.
Your meat should be at a point where it’s starting to break down, especially if you’re using thigh. Breast might take a bit longer under the bonnet and a few good stabs with a wooden spoon. At this point you can lose the lid, bring the heat up to medium, and drop in the red capsicum. The object here is to let it reduce, as simple as that. If you’re cooking brown rice with it, put your rice cooker on now. If you’re using white jasmine rice, maybe hold off a bit.
Once it’s looking saucy rather than soupy, it’s good to serve up. I usually put a plate of chopped herbs, peanuts & lime slices on the table as well to adjust the flavours in-situ.
If you’ve made or modified this dish and enjoyed it, let me know via the comments.
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