I’ve been hoping to become more adventurous in my cooking. There are so many foods I like and that I want to try to cook, but instead we eat about four meals around here. Pasta, salad, roasted vegetables, and things covered in salsa verde. Of course we get a little more interesting when we have people over for dinner, but I want to shake up our everyday dining. I want to try different ingredients, new recipes, exotic cuisines.
So this afternoon I pulled out a new cookbook filled with recipes I’ve never tried. And as I browsed I felt completely overwhelmed . . . the book is so dense with unfamiliar names and ingredients. So I narrowed things down: Thai food, my favorite. Chicken, because we have it in the freezer. Something fairly simple. And I hit upon the perfect recipe. I didn’t even need to make a trip to the grocery store!
Honestly, the grocery store thing should have tipped me off. How could I make a Thai dish with only ingredients we have in the house? It was obvious when we got to the table. This is a Mexican dish. I mean, it was recommended that you serve it “with boiled rice, fresh tomatoes sliced and seasoned with a pinch of chilli powder, salt and lemon juice to taste, or thinly sliced onion.” Uh-huh. Totally Thai-Mex. But delicious. Really delicious. So delicious that by the end of dinner my favorite Mexican was declaring: “we should make this dish every week.”
So much for shaking up our dining routine. I guess we now make five dishes.
Kai Yang or Garlic Chicken
Adapted from The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon
1kg (2lbs) chicken breast (or a roasting chicken cut into pieces)
6 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
4 whole cilantro plants, including roots
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Cut chicken breasts in half (we used a single chicken breast, cut in half, which was about 300g and so we used 1/3 of all the other ingredients). Crush garlic with the salt. Coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle. Finely chop the cilantro. Mix all the seasonings together (including the lemon juice) and rub well into the chicken breasts. Cover and stand for at least one hour (or overnight in the refrigerator).
Grill chicken on the stovetop or in an outdoor grill. (We used a grill pan on the stovetop and this worked well as we didn’t lose any of the delicious marinade. There’s no need to use any oil.) Cook, turning every 5 minutes, until chicken is tender and crisp (on the stovetop ours never got crisp).
Serve with boiled rice, fresh tomatoes sliced and seasoned with a pinch of chilli powder, salt and lemon juice to taste, or thinly sliced onion. As written, this serves 4-6 people.