Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Curried Coconut Chicken Stew with Ginger Quinoa

So in light of my new found Thai cookbook, my tastebuds decided that nothing but an asian/thai inspired dish would do for the night's diner. I would have LIKED to make some tastiful item from my new found cook book, but alas, I am plum out of kaffir lime leaves and galangal. 

I did however have some basic items that I figured could be tossed together to make something my belly was wanting.

I started with the quinoa. Since it's cooking time is similar to rice, I decided to get that started first. I placed  about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil, 1/4 cup diced onion, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic into my rice cooking pot. Then let all the ingredients simmer, mingle, and get to know each other over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent and tender. 

By the way, this stuff is GREAT. It is just plain minced ginger. I used to use the roots, but I would always forget to buy them at the store and whenever I needed them, I never had any around. It also incorporates the flavor more evenly than mincing it by hand. Good stuff.

Meanwhile, I rinse my quinoa....rinse, rinse, rinse....You want to do as much rinsing as possible with this stuff, otherwise you will have some bitter aftertastes. Quinoa contains saponin which causes the bitterness. The best way to ensure all the saponin stuff is rinsed is to use lots of cold water and use your fingers to work the seeds around while rinsing.

A note about Quinoa....
Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas." It was also considered the "Mother Grain" by the Incas. Quinoa's protein content, about 16 percent, is higher than that of any other grain. Wheat also has a high protein content, about 14 percent, but the protein in wheat and most other grains is lacking in the amino acid lysine, which quinoa has in abundance. In fact, the amino acid composition in quinoa is almost perfect. The World Health Organization has judged the protein in quinoa to be as complete as that in milk. In addition, quinoa contains more iron than most grains, and is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, folate, and many B vitamins. SO's good stuff :)

Anywho, so back to the cooking. I added a cup of quinoa to my onion, garlic, and ginger party, covered it with a little less than 2 cups of water, salted the water, then brought it all to a boil. Just like rice, you lower the heat to med/low then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. The great thing about quinoa is you CAN lift the lid to check it's progress. Your not going to cause icky mushyness like doing so with rice.

Ok, so then onto the main course....

I added 1/2 a large onion (approximately 1 cup) of a diced onion and 1 teaspoon minced ginger to my soup crock and let it all simmer on medium heat for about 5-7 minute until the onion gets tender. I then added 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup water, and 1 cup chicken broth keeping the temperature on medium. Then I squeezed in the juice of one small lime.

While the liquid was heating, I diced up my veggies. Great thing is you can use just about whatever. I used yellow zucchini squash, russet potatoes, 1 stalk celery, 1 red sweet cayenne pepper, and carrots. I don't think exact measurements will be needed, just roughly over 2 cups worth of chopped plant goodness.

Next I diced up about 3/4 lb of chicken. Just a tip when dicing raw meat...dice it when it's half frozen. It makes it so much easier. So either use partially thawed meat or an hour or two before starting your meal, place your meat in the freezer. It takes the squish out of the meat and you can make much nicer cleaner cuts. Next I added about 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 2 teaspoons curry powder and stirred well. 

Next, I tossed the veggies in the mix, covered it, and simmered on medium heat for about 30 minutes. 

 Isn't that pretty? I just adore vegetables and their versitility...not to mention soup.

Once simmered, pour over rice, sit down, crack open a bottle of iced spiced ginger ale (are we noticing a pattern here??? I'll give you a hint...I love ginger he he he he)
The munchkin even gobbled it up. Veggies and all. She was not a fan of the rice....silly kid...but the quinoa, veggies, broth, and chicken were all devoured by her. 

Ok, so if anyone is interested, here is the "recipe"

Gingered Quinoa

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 cup rinsed quinoa seeds
2 cups water
dash of salt

Simmer oil, onion, ginger, and garlic on medium heat until onion is tender and translucent. Add water, bring to a boil, add quinoa, cover and cook for about 20 minutes until thoroughly cooked.

Curried Coconut Chicken Stew

3/4 lbs chicken breast cut into 1" pieces
1 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of one small lime (about 1 tablespoon of lime juice)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon fish sauce 
1 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 small potato diced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 diced celery stalk
1 cup zucchini squash
1 diced cayenne pepper, jalapeno, serrano pepper (purely optional)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt to taste

Saute olive oil, onion, and ginger on medium/low heat for about 5-7 minutes until onion is tender and translucent. Add water, broth, and coconut milk. Add lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, cumin, and curry powder and stir well until all ingredients are incorporated. Add remaining ingredients keeping temperature at medium, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until potatoes and carrots are tender.

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