Pan-grilled chicken thighs, marinated in an aromatic and fresh Thai marinade, along with crunchy zucchini and green bell peppers.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog and recipe for many weeks now, since the final outcome and what reached the dining table and hungry mouths, was delicious!
One of my favourite cuisines is Thai and I love dishes which imbibe the versatility and balance of Thai flavours. There is no dearth of aromatic components one can play around and experiment with, when it comes to whipping up Thai dishes in one’s kitchen. Not only are there curry pastes available in practically every grocery store around, the spices, condiments and fresh produce too are readily available in markets everywhere these days. The only one special ingredient and necessary one that too, to find in San Francisco, is kaffir lime leaves. Surprisingly, very surprisingly, with so many Thai eateries dotting every nook and corner of our city, they are not easy to find. I’ve searched practically all stores in Chinatown, alas, could not find them. A trip to the city’s Clement Street, which is a paradise for Asian fresh produce and great eateries, is where I get my supply of kaffir lime leaves. I generally freeze them for awhile, they retain their aroma and fragrance, and add them to my curries and soups whenever the need arises. If I had my way, I would add them to any dish, simply love the tangy and lemony aroma and taste of those zesty leaves.
Anyways, I could go on and on, with my experiences and culinary inspirations I acquire from my regular grocery shopping sprees. Getting back to this dish, this totally came up in my head one day, scouring through my pantry and fridge. Chicken it was, but what kind, what cuisine, Indian, comfort, grilled or hmmm, maybe Thai? With all the ingredients already there in my pantry and fridge, I whipped up this delicious and aromatic marinade for the chicken. I love the nutty flavour of nuts, yep! in this case once again my favourite California nut, the versatile almond, and sesame seeds. The almonds, yes, a different spin, along with the usual Thai components like lemon grass, garlic, ginger, of course Kaffir and coriander. Gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy with a very low fat content, easy to cook and delish when eaten. A final flourish of greens with some fresh zucchini and peppers, voila, this one can be made in any kitchen, it’s pretty uncomplicated 😊
5 skinless chicken thighs, bone-in
1 zucchini, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced green bell peppers or capsicum
For the marinade:
A handful fresh coriander leaves and stems
1-2 stalks fresh lemongrass. Use the top part. Remove tough outer layers and mince the soft portion.
2 inch fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp.coriander seeds
1 tbsp almond and sesame seeds paste. Soak few raw almonds overnight, remove skins and purée along with 1 tsp sesame seeds, and little water, to a paste.
2 tbsp.fresh lime juice
1 tbsp.soy sauce
1 green chili or jalapeño, diced. Discard seeds to remove heat
4 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Add all ingredients for the marinade in a food processor. Grind to a paste, can add a little water during the process.
Make a couple of slits in each chicken thigh. Marinate the chicken overnight or atleast 4-6 hours.
Heat large non stick sauté pan on high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sear on both sides for a few minutes, till brown crust forms.
Reduce heat to low, cover and cook chicken in its juices for 35-40 minutes, or till chicken is tender and cooked.
If it gets a little too dry, add little water or stock.
During the latter part of the cooking process, toss in the zucchini and bell peppers. The veggies should still be crunchy, do not overlook. Check seasoning, add salt, if required. Add a last squeeze of fresh lime juice. Serve.