Thai Coconut Chicken
I seem to be in charge of the appetizers at all the recent parties among my friends. To be sure not to repeat myself too much, I’ve been trying to use my imagination. The most recent favorite is this baby bok choy with Thai coconut chicken. The bok choy is a nice fresh, crunchy way to serve up some shredded chicken with a creamy coconut sauce. Any kind of green can be used, endive works well too. This chicken would also be delicious on a bed of greens with snap peas and cucumber or with some jasmine rice.
I serve the chicken cold, so this dish works really well if you make the sauce and chicken a day ahead, then just assemble on the day of. Even better, the coconut sauce will get more flavorful as it sits. The sauce will get very firm in the refrigerator so heat for just 5-10 seconds in the microwave to loosen it (get it too warm and it will lose its creamy texture).
1 can coconut milk 2 limes 1-2 stalks of lemon grass 1 2″ piece of fresh ginger 2 tsps. Thai fish sauce 1 tbsp. agave or your sweetener of choice 1 tsp kosher salt 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (it will not make it spicy)
1 lb boneless white meat chicken (I use tenders)
4-5 heads of baby bok choy 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Zest the limes and squeeze the juice from one of the limes. Roughly chop the lemon grass into 1/2″ pieces. Grate the ginger on a microplane and save any remaining piece that’s too small to grate.
Place the lime zest and 2 tbsps. juice, chopped lemon grass, grated ginger and any remaining piece, along with all the other sauce ingredients on a small pot.
Place over a medium flame and bring to a simmer. Then turn the flame down enough to keep it barely bubbling. Continue to cook for 30 minutes keeping a close eye on it, assuring that it does not boil.
Strain the mixture into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to get all the flavor out. Then discard the solids. The mixture will be somewhat watery at this point, but will thicken as it cools. The sauce should be served at room temperature or slightly chilled to keep its creamy texture.
Gently pull the stalks apart from the baby bok choy, rinse and set on a towel to dry.
Season the chicken with salt and cook using the method of your choice – sautéing or grilling is ideal. As soon as the chicken is cooked, place it in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the coconut sauce. Toss to get all the chicken coated and set aside cool for about 10 minutes.
Using clean hands, shred the chicken into small pieces.
Stir in 1/2 of the chopped cilantro.
Spoon the chicken onto the stalks of baby bok choy as a kind of “lettuce cup.” For the larger pieces, I cut the bok choy stalks in 2 pieces, the leafy part and the firm part. Both pieces can be used.
Sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro and place them on a platter.
Place the remaining coconut sauce on the side so that diners can spoon some on as they serve themselves.