Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thai Ginger Chicken

If you'd told me three years ago when we were getting ready to go to Asia, that we'd spend a year there, take upwards of 20 flights traveling all over the region, and not visit Thailand, I would have told you you were crazy. Ever since the first time I sat down to a Thai meal in Madison, Wisconsin, I've been fascinated with this country. It doesn't hurt that every time I pick up a travel magazine and there's a picture of Thailand, it shows blue blue water and warm peaceful beaches.

Once we got to Hong Kong, there was a special program that sent Fulbrighters to various countries in the region, and I campaigned and bribed and arm twisted my way into getting an invite to Thailand. But then the stupid Red Shirt revolution happened in the spring of 2010, and all our plans fell through.

Which maybe explains why one of my favorite cookbooks right now is Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook. Or maybe not. Maybe this is my favorite cookbook because the recipes are many, varied, and awfully authentic; the pictures are wonderful, and there's a lot of history and cultural stuff that's really interesting.

This is a relatively easy recipe. The key is the white pepper. Don't leave it out. I'm not saying your kids won't notice it--it's hard to miss that little tingle on the tongue--but they won't mind it. This recipe is sweet and full flavored.

(PS--My friend Jane tried this and said the quarter-cup of ginger blew her kids' ears off.  That in mind, you may want to cut back some the first time you try the recipe).  

Ginger Chicken

2 cups jasmine rice (or any white rice, really)
2 TB oil
1 lb boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 TB fish sauce
2 TB oyster sauce
2 TB sugar
A pinch of white pepper
1/4 cup slivered ginger
1/4 sliced green bell pepper
1/4 sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup sliced onion
cilantro to garnish

  1. Start your rice, according to instructions, maybe 15 minutes before you do anything else.
  2. Chop all your vegetables and slice your chicken. If your kids don't like mushrooms, chop them into tiny pieces. Don't leave them out, though, as they really soak up the juices and add flavor.
  3. Mix ginger, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar
  4. In a wok or large pan, heat the oil.
  5. Add the chicken and garlic; cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add all the chopped goods, the white pepper, and 3/4 of the sauce.
  7. Mix well and stir fry for another 3 minutes, adding additional sauce if necessary.
Family Ratings:
Will, who likes chicken and is beginning to think he might be more adventurous than he thought: 9
Lucy, who likes to eat things she thinks are "exotic": 10
Jamie, who digs red peppers (go figure): 10
Ellen, who hated cilantro the first time she had it: 10
Paul, who's still determined to get to Thailand: 10