Posts Tagged ‘chicken’

I was such a fool to believe that it was merely called a lettuce wrap and not Larb Gai.  For years now I have been this idiotic – for shame!  Though often times considered a Thai dish its origins more accurately bring it from Laos where it is the national dish; a meat salad, if you will.  Most importantly, it is delicious!

After looking over your recipe, your first step is to go directly to your favorite Asian grocer – mine is the Shuang Hur Oriental Market, on Nicollet.  The store is huge, wonderful and ridiculously affordable.  They even have live fish, lobster and oysters in the back of the store.  If you are choosing to make chicken larb gai, and not a red meat variant, you MAY have to go to a different store to pick up some chicken, because when I was there I only saw smoked chicken.  There was whole chicken available as well ( I think…) but I was not in the mood to dismember an entire bird.  Once you’ve gathered all of your ingredients, you are ready to rock n roll!

When you get home, make sure to dig out the rice cooker that is buried in your cupboard.  I know you only use it a handful of times…unless you don’t.  You should have purchased sticky rice at Shuang Hur (5# for $5).  If you didn’t, go back and buy some, seriously.  Long grain rice just won’t work with this since it gives off a completely different experience.  In your rice cooker, drop in 1 cup of rice for each 1 1/2 cup of water, and let the cooker cook the rice – it’s only job.  If you don’t have this space hogging device, a regular sauce pan will suffice.

Whether you bought an entire bird, or just chicken breasts, you really need to cut it up in to sizable pieces in order to properly grind the meat in your food processor, or meat grinder – whichever you prefer.  Another option is to buy already ground chicken; though this idea did not particularly excite me so I stuck with the breasts, because I’m like that (!!!).

For some reason, the prospect of raw meat touching my food processor icked me out.   Regardless, I did it.

Just a few pulses allows you to get the above results.  It is not over-processed and it is not as mealy as ground meat – a nice balance.  After disinfecting your work area, toss the meat in a pan to cook with a couple of tablespoon of water.  It will not take long to cook the chicken all of the way through since it is so exposed to the heat source.  In that two minute time period though, you should be breaking up the clumps in to smaller pieces, ensuring they aren’t cooking in a large clump.

When cooked all of the way through, pour the meat in to a bowl and add the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder,
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce,
  • 5 teaspoons lime juice,
  • 1/4 cup slivered red onions,
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, and
  • 2 tablespoons sliced scallions and mix thoroughly.

You are practically ready to eat!  Just slice up some seedless cucumbers, take your fully cooked sticky rice out of the rice cooker, wash some lettuce and get your mint out!

You can make little chicken wraps with the lettuce, add the cukes and mint, or merely use your fingers to grab some sticky rice and then the chicken larb.  This dish has so many wonderful flavors that work splendidly together, that you will have an umami explosion in your mouth!

If you have any leftover cooked rice, heat it up in a sauce pan with some coconut milk – voila, dessert!


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As previously mentioned, I went to The Affair where I attended a chai demo given by cookbook author, chef, biologist and native Indian Raghavan Iyer.  After realizing that we have this book at home written by Iyer, I paged through until I found a recipe that contained all (or almost all) of the ingredients we already had at home and came upon chicken with potatoes.  I did end up going to the store to grab some ingredients for the spicy garam masaala, and in so doing, forgot the turmeric, and couldn’t locate unsweetened coconut (had sweetened at home though) nor dried Thai chillies and stupidly thought that dried chipotles would suffice.  For the most part they did, but the smokiness was nothing if not lame and the spiciness was somewhat lacking.

Since I am trying this new thing where I carefully read through a recipe before delving in, I noted that I desperately needed to make the spicy garam masaala before doing anything else.  In his demo and book Iyer explains the importance of using fresh spices because one spice has not one flavor, but six.  SIX guys!  It’s like this:

  • Flavor 1: whole seed
  • Flavor 2: ground whole seed
  • Flavor 3: Whole seed dry roasted
  • Flavor 4: Whole seed dry roasted and then ground
  • Flavor 5: Whole seed fried in hot oil (or clarified butter) 10-20 seconds until it has a nutty aroma
  • Flavor 6: Whole seed fried in hot oil (or clarified butter) 10-20 seconds until it has a nutty aroma, then removed from the oil and ground.

Had I not known the above, I would have been a complete slackass and used already ground spices, mixed them together and Called. It. A. Day.  Learning this spice secret is great; greater even than learning The Secret.  To create the spicy garam marsaala then, I used whole spices.  The freshness of them is unclear since I bought them from a grocer who has held them for who knows how long.  However, because I roasted the seeds myself, it has to help…right?

Whoa! It's my banner!

After I roasted the seeds a couple of minutes and let them cool, I took out a reserve coffee grinder (at the time we only had two – I mean this to infer that we now have three) and threw everything pictured above, plus the chipotles and ground it.  No more than a minute later I had a chipotle version of spicy garam marsaala.

Iyer says that this is only good for about a month in a container before it begins to smell and taste rancid.  I assume that the freezer could prevent this from happening as fast?  Regardless that is where mine no resides and I’ll just guess that it is OK for three months (and I just pulled that number out of the air since it lies between 32 days and forever).

I have now spent about a whole ten minutes prepping this part of the dinner (a component of which I only need 1 teaspoon).  Realistically, this was no more complicated than the recipe for the chicken with potatoes, or any recipe really (with the exception of this one).

I wedged the potatoes into eight pieces each and let them simmer in the skillet while I worked the coconut mixture; consisting of coconut, garlic, oil, coriander, and chilies (though truthfully I just used jalapeños).

When the coconut began to brown, I pulled the skillet from the heat, scraped the mixture into the food processor with the specified 1/2 cup of water and let it run a few minutes until it could not be processed anymore.  The seeds are not going to break down in a large processor like mine (11 Cup) and that is perfectly fine.

I started working on the chicken; cutting it up and pan frying it until golden brown.  At this point, everything came together; chicken, the potatoes you probably forgot about, the coconut mixture, spicy garam masaala, the tomatoes, salt, and turmeric.

When the chicken is cooked through, garnish with cilantro and perhaps make some rice!

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Have you ever noticed how inexpensive an entire chicken costs?  I had, but thought little of it because I’m like a hormone driven boy and only want the breasts (of the chicken).  But the other day while getting groceries for Scott and Kathy’s grill out, we bought a whole chicken for $5 and then a bottle of sweet and spicy BBQ sauce for $1.  A couple days later, we had lunch.

We had to use the Google to find out the best method for BBQing (for realz, not just grilling) this chicken with BBQ sauce.  The trick, as we figured was to grill that baby nice and slow on low heat for hours and then at the end brush some BBQ sauce on it.

This was David’s show, as I am not a griller per se.  He coated the chicken (skin on) with olive oil, as well as freshly ground salt and pepper.  Meanwhile I moved the grill from it’s spot on the deck, away from the bird that decided to nest right above it  on the powerlines (and probably laid eggs). 

We left the skin on each piece to allow them to keep their moisture in.  Chloesterol-schmolesterol.  Some people are fearful of grilling chicken because they think that it will try the bird out.  We grilled this on low heat for about 2 hours and it was some of the most moist chicken I had ever had.





When we had maybe 30 minutes left or so, David slathered some BBQ sauce on it and kept a watchful eye on the grill, making sure to turn and flip the pieces as need be so that the sugar sweetness of the sauce would not completely burn the chicken.

Two hours, some of the Sunday Times, 95 degree Fahrenheit outside, and a cold water-hose later, our chicken was done and David whipped up a salad for us which we thankfully ate inside in front of a fan.

I later wondered if the bird nesting in the power lines minded that we were eating another bird.  But that thought quickly escaped my mind as I started eating.

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