21 August 2012

Eats: peanut lime chicken

It’s been awhile since we’ve had Eats around here, yes? Perhaps that’s fitting, considering that I lived off dormitory cafeteria food for the last two weeks. The closest I came to cooking was concocting Freshman Fifteen-esque meals from the all-you-can-eat buffets, like the classic “chicken stir-fry served with french fries and cake on the side”.

But I’m home now, and it’s back to real life, where I get to decide what to eat and exactly what’s in the food I’m eating. Thank goodness for that! I remind myself of that whenever I come home from work and DO NOT WANT TO COOK ARRRGHHHH.

Fortunately, I have an arsenal of easy-peasy recipes that can be whipped up quickly after work, and I’m going to share one of them with you today! It’s a peanut-lime chicken stir-fry inspired by this dish. But per usual, I didn’t follow the recipe and instead, used similar flavors while making it up as I went.

So, in true Casa P Kitchen fashion, sauté “some” minced garlic and onions in olive oil over medium-low heat (avoid burning!).

You know those cute measuring spoons for a “pinch”, “dash”, etc.? I should market the measuring utensil for “some”. There’d be several that would come in a set and range in size from a half-teaspoon to two cups. And every last one would be labeled “some”.

While the garlic and onion cook, mix a tablespoon or so of brown sugar with a few tablespoons (again, give or take) of soy sauce and fish sauce. You want it to have a light consistency, not too syrupy.

I attempted to demonstrate the consistency in the photo but instead, I mostly just took an upside-down photo of myself in a spoon. Hello there! I am once again cooking in my pajamas!

Toss that sweet-soy-sauce mixture in the pan, along with a generous sprinkling of minced cilantro (I used dried), salt and pepper, and chicken sliced into strips.

If you’re of the meatless persuasion, this seems like the perfect dish for tofu, or go for shrimp like the inspiration dish. Better yet, take more inspiration and grill it – I skipped asking Mr. P to grill, on account of the fact that when I made this it was one-hundred ten degrees outdoors.

While the chicken cooks, grab a lime and the fancypants microplane zester that you almost certainly received as a wedding present, because surely there’s no other reason for anyone to have otherwise procured a microplane zester:

Zest the whole lime, then toss the zest into the chicken (which is cooking nicely over medium heat, as you can see):

Then put on your Depression-era sensibility of “waste not, want not” and make the most out of that lime by squeezing the juice over the chicken, too:

I also added some red pepper flakes to taste (which, for our taste, is on the higher end of “some”), which pepped up the flavor. But the tangy lime flavor combined with the salty peanuts is what really, truly makes this dish. Which reminds me!

Peanuts! You need “some”. I went for the plain, unsalted variety (so as not to over-salt the dish) but you could mix it up with some fancier nuts if you like.

Sauté that around for a few minutes, and that’s it! Yes, I’ve left out a lot of measurements, but it’s really hard to mess this dish up. The garlic-onion-soy sauce-sugar base is versatile for most stir-fry dishes, and I just layered the cilantro, lime, red pepper, and peanuts over it. We really loved how it came out for us, and you can feel free to experiment with it for your taste!

But don’t experiment too much, okay? I mean, serve it over rice or noodles. French fries and cake don’t make for good stir-fry accompaniments, and I should know. Enjoy!