Lime. Chile. Coconut milk. Tender, braised chicken thighs. That's what turned my head as I looked for a recipe in my beloved Hot and Spicy Southeast Asian Dishes (DeWitt et al. 1995. Prima Publishing). After a week of not really wanting to cook because it's just been, well, infernally hot, I found this Indonesian curry that is so easy to prepare and wonderful to eat.
Over steamed jasmine rice and garnished with fresh cilantro, the chicken was succulent and perfumed with lime oil, shallot, garlic, lemongrass and just enough zip from the chiles. The coconut milk tempered the pungency of the lime, lemongrass and chiles and made the chicken silky and tender. With watermelon for dessert, the evening meal was easy, light and very pleasing.
I opened a bottle of Driftwood Estate Viognier 2010 (Paso Robles, CA). This wine is interesting in that the grapes are grown on the west coast but the wine is made in Texas. For those of you who are purists, you would argue that this particular wine is not a Texas wine. No matter. It is spicy, floral, unoaked and full of golden fruit with a crisp, clean finish that makes you want more. It is a good balance for Southeast Asian cuisine that doesn't carry too much heat.
Chile Lime Chicken in Coconut Sauce
3 lbs. chicken thighs or 1 3 lb. chicken, cut into pieces, loose skin and fat removed
2 cups coconut milk (I used 1 13.5 oz. can and made up the difference with water)
1/2 tsp. turmeric
4 shallots, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1/2 lime, sliced into rounds
2 dried santaka chiles, seeded and crushed (or substitute another hot dry red chile, such as tien tsin or Thai)
1. Place all the ingredients in a large pot.
2. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens.
3. Serve hot over steamed jasmine rice and garnish with fresh cilantro if you wish. Serves 6.
Note: If you have leftovers, remove the lime slices before storing to avoid increasing the bitterness from the lime oil. I also like to remove the chicken from the bone to avoid that "leftover chicken" taste.
May your tastebuds dance!