Peanut sauce is hearty and filling and It's quite versatile. At our house it works nice as a dipping sauce for chicken strips on a stick, or poured over a bowl of stir fried veggies and scrambled egg strips.
The ingredient you may not have in your cupboard is available in most Asian sections of your supermarkets, labeled fish sauce. Its salty and pungent, and made of anchovies, but it flavors the peanut sauce deftly, and substitutes fall short. I'll put up a salad dressing for steak salad, that you will use more fish sauce in, so you won't feel like you're doing a one time purchase. I predict your family will ask for this one again and again.
Thai Swimming Rama chicken with cabbage and spinachFeeds my family of 8 (3 teens, 2 parents, 3 littles)
2 (10 ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 family size fresh spinach (this is about 10-12 cups raw leaves but makes only 1.5 cups cooked and packed)
1 medium head (about 2 lbs) of thinly sliced but not shredded cabbage. Think egg noodle width, not coleslaw. You may use green, napa, bok choy, savoy, red cabbage, or whatever you prefer, but you'll need at least 5 cups of sliced cabbage.
During gardening season I will slice up a couple of red sweet bell peppers (capsicum), or shave thinly a few carrots, for extra color and variety
Or you may substitute thinly sliced broccoli or brussel sprouts, or cauliflower for a part of the six cups of sliced veggies to go with the 10 cups of spinach.
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, sliced crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips
2 T coconut oil, refined is fine (divided for 3 uses)
1 cup onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup peanut butter, unsugared
4 Tablespoons fish sauce (yes, you need this!)
2 teaspoon paprika, I like the smoky style
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups coconut milk, unsweetened (or if nut allergic use chicken broth)
4T Truvia sweetner or Xylitol as desired (or micro-sprinkles of stevia to taste to equal this) (You will be adding lime later, so sweeten up!)
1teaspoon or so of gluccomannon or xanthan gum to thicken
2 squeezed limes or ~1/4 cup lime juice
Toss chicken strips with salt and pepper (start with 2 tsp. salt & 1/2 tsp pepper) and with 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Set aside while you heat the oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or very large skillet or wok.
Heat 2 teaspoons of coconut oil until it's glistening and pan is hot, then toss in half the sliced chicken, and cook until browned on edges but not necessarily cooked through. You will cook more in the end. Set aside in a bowl and add 2 tsp. more coconut oil into the hot skillet and toss in the remaining half of the raw chicken. Cook until browned, and nearly done. Add to the bowl of the browned but raw chicken.
To the hot skillet you cooked the chicken in, please add the remaining 2 teaspoons of coconut oil. Drop in the finely diced onions and mince the garlic into it, taking care not to burn the garlic. Cook and stir occasionally, 2 minutes until the onion is tender, reducing heat at the end to medium.
Now add your 1 cup of peanut butter to the onions and stir in fish sauce, sweetener to the equivalent of 4T of sweetness, and gently stir in the coconut milk, and add one more teaspoon of paprika, and a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste. My children prefer tiny bits of cayenne, here. Get your whisk ready, and sprinkle one teaspoon of gluc or xanthan gum over the top of the peanut sauce and whisk whisk whisk until completely smooth.
Now add your mostly, but not completely cooked chicken, to the hot peanut sauce. Let simmer, covered, on low, for the 5-8 minutes as you prepare the vegetables.
Heat on medium high heat a large wok or frying pan with a lid. Toss in 1/4 cup of hot water, wait for it to boil, then add the sliced head of cabbage and pour on 1/4 cup of water and several good shakes of real salt. Stir a quick bit, then top with the lid. Let steam on med-hi for 5 minutes, adding 1/4 cup hot tap water at the 2 minute mark if needed to keep steam. Check for tenderness at the 5 minute mark, and add the spinach leaves, push down, cover again, and let the spinach wilt for 2 more minutes.
|Swimming Rama Chicken in Peanut Sauce|
Give spinach and cabbage strips a quick toss with tongs to mix them up a bit, Taste to see if you need salt and pepper, and distribute the mixture to a large platter, making a nest to put the Chicken and peanut sauce upon.
Taste your long simmered peanut sauce and chicken. Does it need more salt? Pepper? Cayenne? Now pour in the 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, give it a stir, and taste it again. Does it need another tablespoon of sweetener to balance out the sauce? It should have a balance of salt, acid, sweet, and a little hint or more of spice. If it's just right, then ladle your chicken and sauce right onto your nest of cabbage and spinach.
Optional Garnishes: If you like, this is where you may garnish it with 1 cup of chopped peanuts, 1 finely slivered skinny red hot pepper, or cilantro-coriander leaves, a handful of raw mung bean sprouts, or all four.
Serve with 1/2 cup of broth-cooked quinoa or brown rice as S helpers, because this is definitely an S meal. Or just enjoy it on your veggies and call it delicious, because it is!