I'm sure you have all heard of Rick Stein. If not, he is a fantastic chef who is well renowned for his seafood cooking. Anyway, Rick had a documentary on telly a month or two ago about his trip around Asia. I was checking out one of my favourite kitchen shops the other week when I came across his book Rick Stein's far eastern odyssey. After flipping through it I just had to own it. The book is full of wonderful recipes that were on his show and a few extras for people like me who just want more!
After bringing the book home and drooling over the pages I came across a dish I thought I'd make for dinner. I had a whole chicken in the fridge, most of the ingredients needed and a lot of enthusiasm for anything delicious.
When I tell you I have most of the ingredients, what I should really say is I have a few of the ingredients that are similar to the ones asked for, and then a few I know I need but also know I can't use due to Alex and Max sharing the meal....that's right, the 2-3 tablespoons of three different chillies required were never going into this dish, so I figured I'd follow the recipe with what I had.
Another reason why I love buying and reading books from great chefs who really just care about flavour and happiness. Stein gives you two to three examples of other household ingredients you can substitute to get a great flavour instead of insisting you go and buy everything from a specialist shop. As a parent and working person, this is something I really appreciate!
So here is my interpretation of Rick Steins coconut chicken that is suitable for toddlers as well as grown ups and I have to say I didn't even reach for the chilli jar. I just loved the flavour this dish produced all on it's own. I defiantly recommend this dish to anyone who LOVES a flavour packed family meal.....
Balinese spice paste (mild version)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 heaped tablespoon salted peanuts
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
3 spring onions, sliced
4cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
bottom 2 inches of lemongrass, roughly sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
juice of half lime
Put peppercorns, nuts and sesame seeds into a spice grinder or mortor and pestel and grind to a fine powder.
Place into a large jug with remaining ingredients and blend with a stick blender until it turns into a very smooth paste.
Reserve until needed.
For the chicken
4 chicken thigh with bone in
2 drumstick and 1 breast cut into 3 pieces
1 quantity above spice paste
400ml coconut milk
1 lemon grass stalk, lightly bruised and knotted ( I used the remaining top piece of my lemongrass as I only had one)
Sprinkle the pieces of chicken with salt on both sides and let rest for 20 minutes
Put the spice mixture into a medium sized saucepan and add coconut milk, lemongrass stalk and 1 teaspoon salt.
Bring to the boil slowly, then add chicken pieces and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for one hour or until the chicken is cooked and tender and sauce has thickened.
Serve with steamed rice, fresh bean shoots and slices of cucumber drizzled in salt, lime juice and a splash of fish sauce.
I tell not a lie, my kids asked for seconds after they tasted it....when they first saw it, there were the usual noises of "dear god what is this green stuff mum?" but I told them it was this or bed...I think they would agree with me that they chose well and even got dessert!