Listen, it’s not like I never do adventurous things. I mean, you know: I ride roller coasters. I cut 11 inches off my hair. I launch out into self-employment. And hello, there was that mountain in Maine I won’t let anyone forget about. Remember?!

But when it comes to my kitchen and new types of cuisine, even I will admit that I stick pretty close to the basics: American, Italian, sometimes Greek, but pretty rarely anything outside that. And if it weren’t for my friend Stacey, who came over Tuesday night to, at her suggestion, try making Thai food, that would all be exactly the same.

peanut butter noodles

Our plan of attack was simple: pick two recipes, adapt the ingredients to be fully natural, follow the instructions and cook. There would be curried coconut chicken (because how good does that sound?) and peanut butter noodles (because peanut sauce is exactly what drew both of us to Thai food in the first place, which reminds me—thank you, Elizabeth, for showing me the beauty of pad Thai).

curried coconut chicken in bowl

We started with the chicken: While we chatted about Stacey’s recent trip to Israel and my new-found free time, she chopped onions and garlic, and I boiled, then peeled, tomatoes. After trimming and chopping the chicken pieces, I seasoned them with salt and pepper.

Then we began: curry and coconut oil sizzled in the big cast iron skillet my mom got me for my birthday, sending this warm, spicy aroma into the kitchen. Then in went the onions and garlic, jumping and popping in the oil, getting covered with flecks of curry throughout. We spread the chicken all over the pan, letting it turn from pink to white to lightly gold right before our eyes, stirring it with the juices continually. Last, we added all the liquids and the sugar: the can of coconut milk, the diced and peeled tomatoes, the tomato sauce. Turning the heat down, we covered the pan of creamy reddish-brown sauce and moved on to peanut butter noodles.

peanut butter noodles

You don’t even have to say what you’re thinking. I know, I know, curried coconut chicken with peanut butter noodles? Where did we come up with that combo? And you’re right: it’s not the most obvious pairing. Rice with the chicken, maybe. The noodles on their own perhaps. But once we’d cooked the Udon noodles and combined them with the caramelized peanut butter sauce, chopped peanuts and green onions, we learned an interesting lesson: kitchen adventures defy all normal categorizations. In fact, maybe that’s what adventure is all about, learning to think outside the box, experimenting with something unknown. Maybe I could use some more of that.

Oh, and also: the curried coconut chicken was hoooot. I’m pretty sure I must have added three tablespoons of curry instead of two like the recipe says? Drinking chug (after chug) of ice water helped, but turns out it was the soft and creamy peanut butter noodles that really calmed my tastebuds down. Serendipity? I think so.





Curried Coconut Chicken
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

One more bonus with this recipe that I forgot to make a big deal about in the post: it’s one pan! ONE. You put everything in one skillet and that’s where it stays. Easy as can be.

Ingredients:
1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (14 ounce) can organic coconut milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes (we boiled, skinned and chopped about seven fresh tomatoes instead)
8 ounces tomato sauce
3 tablespoons Sucanat

Directions:
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine coconut oil and curry powder for about two minutes. Add onions and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly. Lower heat to medium and keeping cooking for 7 to 10 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear, stirring regularly.

Add coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce and Sucanat into the pan, and stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 30 to 40 minutes.





Peanut Butter Noodles
Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Side note: I ate some of these for lunch the next day, all by themselves, and it was delightful.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoons ginger powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces organic Udon noodles
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Then add the Udon noodles and cook until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium heat, combine chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey and garlic, cooking until peanut butter melts and is heated through. Add noodles, and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions and peanuts.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Jacqui

    this reminds me, i really want you to try filipino food. let’s set up a cooking date sometime, and i’ll show you how to make pancit and adobo! sometime after next weekend, though… :)

  2. Jen

    I’m smitten with all Asian foods–Thai, Chinese, Indian, and anything in the middle or around the outsides! We tend to cook a lot of stir fry and curries at our house because my family loves spicy, and luckily in Cincinnati we have a giant world food store called Jungle Jim’s where you can get all kinds of crazy ingredients from all around the world. Like you, we try to do it from scratch and with natural ingredients.

  3. Lan

    have you tried vietnamese food? i wish i were closer or you were and we could play in the kitchen, because seriously, everytime you write about your cooking adventures with others, i am green with envy!

    so very glad you enjoyed your thai experience.

  4. Kelley

    Oh, definitely do pancit with Jacqui. You will love it! Just wish I could figure out a way to do it you first! :) I have a (long story) recipe passed on from a grandma from the Philippines who visited her daughter in Georgia and crossed paths with my mom.

    And as for Thai … oh, I’m drooling and heading for my cooking notebook to see what I need for Thai beef salad, which I haven’t made in far too long.

    Three cheers for new cuisine adventures!

  5. Maddie

    So nice to see a fresh usage for PB!

    I’m planning to make homemade sriracha-esque hot sauce this weekend, in an attempt to use up the 23,935 hot peppers I got in my CSA bag. Do you think a bit of that would give a nice kick to these noodles?

  6. Angharad

    Curried coconut chicken sounds amazing! I have thai red curry on my to make list this week – all the ingredients are just there and waiting for me to season my new wok. Thai food is growing to be something I love cooking.

    Peanut butter noodles could not sound more enticing if they tried!

  7. kate

    I love Thai food with a passion, especially any and all noodle dishes. The fire doesn’t bother me at all. This dish looks perfect for warming the belly on a cool Fall night. We’ve had lots of those lately.

  8. heather

    isn’t it fun being adventurous with food? even if it makes us sweat! in fact, i think that’s even better — take us out of our comfort zones. anyway, both dishes look wonderful. we make a similar peanut noodle here and believe that every last morsel is slurped up and wiped clean! oh, and i believe we climbed that same Maine mountain three months ago!

    cheers,

    *heather*

  9. Alicia

    You have NO idea how excited I am that you posted a peanut sauce recipe!!! I had Thai food a few months ago and fell in LOVE with the peanut sauce on the food. Then I bought some, but it was nothing like what I had. This recipe sounds perfect. Thank you thank you thank you!

  10. Shannalee

    Jen, I’ve totally heard of Jungle Jim’s. I want to go!

    Lan, I wish we could cook together, too!

    Kim, It’s just what I usually use instead of sugar. You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sucanat!

    Kelley, Oh man, I wish we could have a cooking adventure together. Jude too, if he’s interested. : )

    Maddie, I think I would love to know what that would be like, and I love that you’re thinking of cool new ways to use all your abundant peppers. : ) Let me know if you try it!

    Angharad, Good for you and your adventurous spirit!

    Rachel, I know you do!

    Kate, We have, that’s true. Hot food like this chicken is great for fall!

    Heather, A fellow mountaineer! I love it!

    Alicia, : ) Peanut sauce makes everything better.

  11. Lauren

    I love thai food and peanut noodles are soooo great! My favorite dish ever has got to be paad thai and I’ve managed to make that at home. Next stop: peanut noodles! Thanks for sharing the recipe! =)

  12. Kim Shenberger

    So, would the proper substitution be brown sugar? I’ve never seen or heard of sucanat; do you get it at a health food store? Sounds like something worth seeking for; my hubbie likes brown sugar on his cereal and oatmeal–sucanat would be healthier!

  13. Jen

    I just recently tried Udon noodles…but I’m not sure I bought the right kind!! They were super salty, especially when I tried to add my sesame/soy sauce concoction to them. Where do you do most of your shopping? Just curious! I’ve tried Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market but haven’t beeen to Whole Foods yet…

  14. heather @ chiknpastry

    I’m right there with you – anytime I see anythign with peanut sauce I get all kinds of excited. i made a pork burger with peanut sauce the other night – yum! this combo looks great though, and hopefully it reinforces you to cook other cuisines!

  15. Kim

    Delicious!!! I have always wanted to try to make Thai food, but have never ventured out into actually doing it. I know what you mean about sticking to your usual culinary realm, especially when a new recipe will require a new set of ingredients and spices – just an excuse to go food shopping though!

  16. Shannalee

    Lauren, I know! Pad Thai was an instant hit with me, as most things with peanut sauce are. : )

    Kim, Well, personally, I use Sucanat as a sub for brown sugar and white sugar all the time, even though it is more like brown sugar and does have a distinct flavor. I buy it at Whole Foods, which is the only place I’ve seen it. However, in this recipe, you could use whatever you like for the sweetener: white sugar or raw sugar (turbinado) or brown sugar!

    Jen, Hmm that’s interesting. I bought mine at Whole Foods (which is where I do most of my shopping, along with Trader Joe’s) and I chose them because the ingredients list was literally like organic unbleached wheat flour, water and one other thing. I don’t think it was salt.. and these def weren’t salty. Maybe take a look at the ingredients lists on whichever ones you try next? Hope that helps!

    Heather, I hope so, too!

    Stacey, Ha! The next day’s natural light was much better. : )

    Beba, Good question – I’d say probably four to six, depending on how big the servings are.

    Kim, True, true. And then a way to force yourself to really learn how to use those ingredients you’ve bought!

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