Due to current state of our economy, traveling is a privilege few can afford these days. While it’s certainly not the same as plane hopping and visiting foreign countries, living in a metropolis that is Los Angeles allows us to sample and taste exotic flavors and thus explore various cultures in just a few BITES. Sort of.
For the nearly five years that I lived in NYC, surrounded by thousands of top restaurants that the city is famed for, sadly (and for all the wrong reasons) I lived on baby carrots, bananas and watermelon. (Oh, Agi, you fool!…) Hence, it is Los Angeles where I discovered Green Curries, good sushi, Alu Gobi Masala, Pad-Thai, et al.
Since I started messing around in the kitchen, which in my mind translates into COOKING, I’ve been drawing ideas from our various culinary expeditions in the city. Jason has the natural curiosity and drive to taste the new and exotic, while I get to be a hitchhiker on his sampling trips.
Now, I am no expert on THAI cuisine, however my embarrassing love affair with Pad-Thai precisely makes me a frequent visitor to Thai restaurants around town. Hence, when I look for an exotic note in a homemade meal, my first thought travels across the ocean to Southeast Asia.
Today I want to share with you my Thai- inspired dinner experiments, starting with…
– 2 cups of brown basmanti rice
– 2 cups of light coconut milk
– 2 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
– 4 cloves of garlic
– 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
– 1 tbsp of coconut oil
– 1/3 cup of sun dried raisins
– kosher salt + black pepper to taste.
Peel your garlic and then smash it. Yes, go ahead – give it a healthy whack! Heat the coconut oil in a pot, throw in the red pepper flakes and the garlic, and reduce the heat to medium. Toast the two troublemakers for 1-2 minutes and let the oil soak up those flavors, but watch not to burn them. Next, add your rinsed basmanti rice, salt it, mix it, coat in the oil and let everything get merry for about 2 minutes. When you hear the rice kernels pop – the party has begun!
Now it’s time for the liquids – first coconut milk, then the chicken stock. Mix it, stir it, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover with a lid. Let the rice simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, for 20-30 minutes. When done, fluff it up with your wooden spoon, or what have you, and toss in the handful of raisins that have been sitting on the counter and resting before their turn, and stir those guys in. The heat from the rice will help soften those sweet little bites of sun and welcome them into the family.
I am proud to say the Coconut Rice made an astounding impression on the three Chicken Thighs that I had roasted just for the occasion. (Thus dressed up, the chick rested its tender legs on the scoop of the rice delight, sipped on its own juices, closed its eyes, and daydreamed about exotic vacation on the silky beaches of Thailand… Sunglasses – check, coconut drink – check, sunscreen – check!… The chicken sighed.)
Two cups of dry rice makes a lot, and I mean A LOT of cooked rice, even if you have my appetite. I’m talking about an appetite of a teenager in puberty, whose body is an inexhaustible power plant. I’m talking a-never-ending-yearning-for-food-of-a-pup (see Cosmo). In other words, Agi’s appetite after a two-hour work out with her boyfriend-slash-trainer who is totally and positively immune to her huffing, puffing, flirting and joking, followed by threats and other verbal abuse.
Frankly, it’s a wild mystery to me how he does it. All I know, he just stands there and – with stoical patience – commands me to do a series of exercises despite my above mentioned forms of protesting and rebellion. Jason simply waits me out. And when it finally dawns on me I am not winning this battle, I suddenly find myself strangely aroused … by his power over me. Authority once again proves itself the most powerful and natural aphrodisiac.
Serendipitously a poem comes to mind, written by the very father of my mate-slash-coach. Dr. Jimmy Harkins spoke in rhyme once again, and his words I shall recite for you in the ADDENDUM…
You think about it while I’ll tend to the second batch of the leftover rice. For dinner #2 I propose:
CHAI CHICKEN WITH PINEAPPLE FRIED RICE
– Coconut Rice from the previous day
– 1/2 to 1 cup of diced pineapple with its juice (depending on how much rice you’re left with)
– 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
– 1 tbsp of coconut oil
– 1 tsp of curry powder
– 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
– 1/3 cup of chopped scallions
– 2 chicken breasts (organic and free range if available) for the Chai Chicken (see FRIKKIN’ CHAI CHICKEN for the recipe https://agablack.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/frikkin’-chai-chicken-freekeh/)
While the chicken is cut in strips and mixed with red curry powder, curry, garam masala, salt, pepper, crushed garlic and coconut milk, and all is cheerfully cooking in one pot, you grab a deep skillet and heat it on the stove. Add the coconut oil. Peel and smash garlic cloves and throw into the oil. Let it toast along with red pepper flakes for a minute over medium heat (watch not to burn) and slowly add your leftover Coconut Rice. Mix it well with the infused oil. Slowly add the pineapple chunks with its juice, sprinkle with curry powder and mix well. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and let it all get happy for about 5 minutes. About a minute to the end throw in the scallions and mix together. Serve along with your Chai Chicken, its sauce poured over the rice, and simply FORGET WHERE YOU ARE AND IMAGINE YOU’RE ON THE COAST OF THAILAND.
This dish is to die for. If it weren’t for the ridiculously large dining table that separated me from Jason, we would have been stealing bites off of each other’s plates the night I made it.
BE ADVENTUROUS IN YOUR KITCHEN!
HAPPY EXOTIC TRAVELS EVERYBODY.