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.
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.