Total prep time: About 25 minutes
Total cook time: 10 minutes
My family absolutely loves Thai food. Two of my college roommates were Thai and both of their parents immigrated to the United States from Thailand at the age of 18. Their Mom taught them how to cook and needless to say I loved when they cooked a big “home cooked” meal. Our apartment gave off the aroma of a little Mom and Pop Thai restaurant for days. This recipe has an Asian flare without getting too exotic with spices and ingredients. I love this recipe because I can do most of the preparation ahead of time and all I need is about 10 minutes to cook the chicken (I put my rice on ahead of time). There is a dipping sauce that goes with the chicken. When I first made it I almost didn’t make the sauce and it would have been a huge mistake. The sauce ties it all together and makes it absolutely perfect. It calls for 2 jalapeños but surprisingly enough, the chicken doesn’t retain a lot of that heat after it is cooked – it just gives it a yummy flavor.
Here is what you will need:
2 jalapeño peppers (remove the seeds and white parts, this is the main heat source of hot peppers)
2 cloves of garlic smashed
½ cup packed cilantro (I use stems and leaves all together)
2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce (often called nam pla or nuoc mam)
1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking oil
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
¼ teaspoon salt
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (leaves only here)
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons water
In a food processor or blender (a mini chopper is plenty big), puree the jalapenos, 2 smashed garlic cloves, the ½ cup of cilantro, fish sauce, olive or cooking oil, sesame oil, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Put the chicken in a shallow, glass dish and spread the cilantro marinade all over the chicken. I like to make this in advance and just put it in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it. When you’re ready to cook it, grill the chicken until it is just done, about 10 minutes. The George Foreman grill works well, it cooks quickly and you get the pretty grill marks without firing up the actual grill.
For the dipping sauce, add the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to a small stainless steel sauce pan. Bring it to a simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. In a small glass bowl, add the minced garlic, tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves, red pepper flakes and water. Pour the vinegar mixture on top and your sauce is now complete. This can also be made in advance.
As I mentioned before I love to serve this with jasmine rice. Put a nice large helping of rice in a bowl and lay your chicken breast on top. Serve the sauce alongside the dish to dip the chicken in. It is also tasty with a crusty bread and salad.
A note about the ingredients:
Jasmine or Basmati Rice can be found in the Asian food section (not with the rice) at Wal-Mart and most grocery stores. The Asian fish sauce, Asian Sesame oil, and Rice Wine Vinegar can all be found on the Aisan food aisle in the grocery store. If you’ve read my blog before, you know I am a big proponent of fresh garlic. Don’t be afraid to use fresh garlic – you can really taste the difference! Look in the onion section at your grocery store and you will find heads of garlic sold loosely like onions. A nice head of garlic will be firm to the touch and not have any brown or mushy spots. I’ve used white and light purple garlic but the taste is really the same. Under the skin you will see little sections – those are cloves. A quick way to prepare garlic: separate however many cloves you need (leave the little skins around the cloves). Using a sharp knife, carefully slice off the stem end. Put the garlic on your cutting board and lay the flat end of your knife on top. Using the heel of your hand, give it a good smack. This will loosen the skins away from your clove of garlic and you can separate it out much easier than painstakingly peeling each clove by hand. As an added bonus, it is already a little smashed and ready for mincing.