Another fabulous chicken recipe. This week's delight was to e-travel the globe and try a Malaysian-Style Chicken with Lemongrass and Garlic. I found an immensely popular chicken recipe from Wong's Restaurant in New York. Tasting Table, tested it, adapted it a bit more and, voila, the result was delicious. Dinner and a Movie (The Daniel Craig/Rooney Mara version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Gotta watch both versions.... totally worth it.)
First, SmartCooks Chicken R Us Roundup
I seem to alternate postings between chicken and vegetarian recipes. Time for a round-up of the chicken dishes I've posted so far in previous SmartCooks blogs and in the first Christmas edition of SmartCooks Book. I've posted more than half a dozen chicken dishes in the past six months, ranging from
- Lemon Chicken (China, pictured left)
- Chicken Katsu (Japan)
- Ginger-Marinated Bulgogi-Style Chicken (Korea)
- Djej Besla Chicken with Onions and Olives (Morocco)
- Kai Yang Grilled Chicken (Thailand) and
- Chicken, Cashews and White Curry (Sri Lanka).
And now to add to the list...
- Malaysian-style Chicken with Lemongrass and Garlic.
Endless variations are possible with all dishes and all are keepers for the long term.
I always find interesting factoids when I work on a recipe. The purists like Wong's Restaurant in New York would cook this dish using only a premium brand of meat called 'Bobo Poultry'. Bobo is only just being discovered in the Western world but is a staple for many Chinese Buddhists and Asian families dating back to Ancient Rome days.
Bobo roughly translates from Chinese as 'precious'. A perfect whole chicken, including the head and feet, without markings and bruises is said to bring good fortune to a family and their ancestors. The dark meat is considered the best. BoBo Poultry brand is heavily supplied to Asian restaurants throughout the U.S.
But my style of cooking chicken is all about NOT dealing with head, feet and other issues like feathers (but I so remember my mother burning off the feathers before cooking a chicken bought at the door from the egg lady whereas I (.... here it comes .... ) 'chicken out' at the thought. I prefer organic, skinless chicken breasts.) And the dish was flavourful to the max to that's what I'm going for in this recipe. But, hey, always open to learning....
Preparation is key for this dish
This is a fairly easy, fast recipe but pre-chopping the lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and ginger is a must-do because there's only about 30 seconds between the addition ingredient.
The staple for this recipe is my favourite -- lemongrass (pictured left) -- and it calls for a lot so I did to maximize the lemony flavour and aroma. To prevent crunching any bits of stringy lemongrass from the stalks, I ground it well in the food processor. I also used the last of the garlic purchased from the Carp Garlic Festival last year (can't wait for this year's crop...)
Recipe for Malaysian-Style Chicken with Lemongrass and Garlic
(For 4 people, adapted from the Tasting Table)
For the Marinade:
1/2 cup canola oil
4 stalks (or more) lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and stalk finely chopped
16 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 T sambal oelek (chili paste)
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 T sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsp kosher salt
For the Chicken:
4 6-ounce chicken breasts (can be bone in out, organic, skinless... on special or whatever... you know my preference)
1 tsp kosher salt
Make the marinade first: Line up all your pre-prepped, chopped-up ingredients near your cooking grill. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, heat the canola oil. Add, in order, the lemongrass and cook, stirring for 30 seconds, then the garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then stir in the shallots. Cook the shallots for 30 seconds and then stir in the ginger. Once the ginger is fragrant, after about 30 seconds, stir in the turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Mix in the sambal oelek (chili paste), cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the coconut milk, sugar, lime juice and salt. Turn off the heat and let the marinade cool (the oil will separate from the solids).
Once cooled, over a large bowl, pour the marinade through a fine-mesh strainer. You will have about half a cup of liquid in the bowl. In a separate bowl, scrape the spice paste from the strainer into another small bowl and set aside (if marinating overnight, cover the spice paste with plastic wrap and refrigerate).
Then the chicken: Season the chicken breasts with 1 tsp of the kosher salt and then add to the marinade, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. (I found 1 hour was just fine...) Preheat the oven to 400° F. Heat a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the skillet, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side, about 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat and spread the reserved spice paste over the top of each piece of chicken. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes longer.