Well, people, we`re into the final leg of the race to Christmas, or C-Day as I like to call it. This past week, with the help of my oldest daughter, Kylie, (who not only has all of her Christmas shopping done, but everything`s wrapped and she`s good to go), I`ve managed to cross the threshold and I can now see the finish line. Kylie is one of those people who LOVES all things Christmas and starts playing Christmas Carols on the first of November, sweet, beautiful soul that she is. I, on the other hand, procrasinate the heck out of all things Christmas. It`s not that I don`t enjoy the season...I`m actually pretty fond of the Christmas warm and fuzzies. I think my procrastination has less to do with Christmas and more to do with being in denial of the impending frigid winters here in Newfoundland that follow. This past Thursday, Kylie and I had a date to go shopping and seeings how I was going to be otherwise occupied, Stephen, my husband, and my youngest daughter, Mackenzie, decided it was a great time for them to go shopping as well. As such, dinner Thursday night had to be no fuss and quick while still yummy, on budget and healthied-up.
I had taken chicken breasts out of the freezer Thursday morning but that's pretty much where my planning ended. Around 2 o'clock I started considering my options. No one was around for me to ask what they'd like or what they might be in the mood for which meant I was free to make whatever suited my fancy. Great, right? Wrong....my fancy is often fickle and this was one of those times. I wanted savory but I also wanted sweet; I wanted tangy but I also wanted spicy. I was in turmoil. What could I possibly cook that was no fuss and quick, savory yet sweet, tangy yet spicy? Well, duh Kim! Thai!
Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components and a spicy edge. It is known for it`s complex interplay of at least three and up to four or five fundamental taste senses in each dish or overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy. Although it`s usually pretty simplistic, it`s not about the simplicity. It`s about the juxtaposition of elements to create a harmonious balance. While a lot of people, particularly in the Western world, see Thai food as a jumble of flavours, it`s really about a balnace of complexities.
I took the thawed chicken breasts and cut them into 2 inch cubes and placed them in a zipper lock baggie. I then made a marinade of minced garlic, Tamari sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground ginger and honey. I poured the marinade over the chicken in the baggie, sealed it and placed it in the refrigerator for 3 and a half hours or so. While marinating the chicken overnight or for at least 6 hours would have been optimal, unless we were going to have dinner at 9 pm, I had to work with the time I had.
Wanting to have dinner cooked by 6:20 or so, (yes, I'm that anal), I removed the chicken from the refrigerator at 5:30 to allow it to come up to room temperature before cooking. Regardless of what protein you`re cooking with, to take it from really cold to really hot too fast will make it cease up and tough. At 6:00, I heated up a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and gave it a few spritzes of olive oil cooking spray. When the skillet was nice and hot, I added half of the chicken at a time and quickly seared it to a golden brown colour. I transferred the chicken to a plate and cooked the remaining chicken in the same manner. Seeings how I was dinner was going to have a little Thai flair, I decided to cook noodles to serve the stir--fry on top of. I used vermicelli but you could easily use and noodles you like. Vermicelli noodles are very fine and don't require a lot of cooking time so while the second batch of chicken was browning, I brought a medium -sized pot of lightly salted water to a boil for the noodles.
After the chicken was cooked, I sauteed one diced leek, a cupp of sliced mushrooms, 8-10 cherry tomatoes, a diced red pepper and a clove of minced garlic. I seasoned the vegetables with ground ginger, crushed red chilli flakes and a smidge of coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Although some cooks believe it's perfectly ok with using your marinade to make your sauce providing you bring it to a boil, I'm just not comfortable with that so I whipped up a few ingredients to make a sauce. In a bowl, I combined 1/4 c. brown sugar with 1 Tbsp cornstarch and then whisked in 4 Tbsp. soya sauce, 1/4 c. white wine vinegar and a tsp fish sauce. I then added the chicken back into the skillet and poured the sauce over everything, stirring to combine. When the sauce started to boil and thicken, I added in a handful of frozen green peas. When my noodles were cooked, I drained them, placed them on a plate and then topped with my Tangy Thai Chicken Stir Fry. I garnished the works with some finely chopped green onions.
Looks yummy don't you think?
As you look at this picture think, 'salty soy and fish sauces, sweet brown sugar, savory garlic and onions, tangy whiite wine vinegar and spicy red chilli flakes'....can you imagine the aromas? The harmonious juggling of opposing flavours?
Look how vibrant the red pepper is and how deeply flavoured the chicken breasts are. This dish wakes up every taste bud in your mouth and while it's a nice light meal, it's deeply satisfying. The total cooking time was less than 20 minutes outside of the marinating time. I estimate the cost of this meal to be approximately $3.50 per portion - you can't even get a burger from the value menu at the local drive-through for that! I healthied-up this Tangy Thai Chicken Stir Fry by using boneless skinless chicken breasts, olive oil cooking spray, limited amount of freshly ground sea salt and whacking in the veg. The aroma is sure to capture your attention while the flavours make your taste buds dance with joy!
Tangy Thai Chicken Stir Fry....easy, healthied-up, inexpensive AND dellicious!!!