This might just be by far my favourite LCBO “Food & Drink” recipe. There are others I really love, but this one… wow… it won me over instantly, and I’ve made it so many times and I’ve learnt from it too. If you like coconut milk and soy sauce, you’re in! This recipe is the reason why I have sambal oelek and soy sauce in my fridge all the time and frozen spinach and fresh ginger in the freezer. Not that you shouldn’t have all these awesome things on hand all the time!
I love spinach, a little too much, so there’s always way too much spinach in my version of this than the original. I use frozen spinach, cause one, it’s cheaper, two, already cleaned, washed, chopped and three, I get to add more! Just, as someone here learnt, thaw it first (ahem). Don’t let it thaw/melt in the saucepan with the sauce. It will let out water and that will thin out your coconut milk (you can imagine how much spinach I like to add)
The original recipe is made with fish sauce. Now, it is a bit of an acquired taste, and the very small amount is fine in this sauce, but, because it is more salty than soy sauce and I wanted my salt content to come from soy sauce (extra flavour) and not from salt, I wanted to add more, but I couldn’t because then it’ll taste of fish sauce a little too much. So, to cut down on expenses and knowing I’d use soy sauce a lot more, I just make it with soy sauce and it is just as nice.
My other expense cutting choice was omitting the lemon grass. I like adding it, you can too, a small stalk would do, but I just put a squirt of lime juice in the sauce, instead of letting everyone add for themselves, and that way I get a small lemony zing in the sauce itself. It doesn’t hurt to not have lemon grass, but do choose a lime instead of a lemon. I’ve tried, it’s not the same.
There was some spice fudging on my side today. It is made with Chinese five spice powder, which I didn’t have. I used a four spice mix (cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg) and added some ground coriander. I couldn’t tell the difference in the finished meal. So that means it was fine 🙂
I also added some chopped cilantro in the end. I was looking back and forth to the recipe and was wondering why it doesn’t exist in the original. It is such a natural conclusion…
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder or mix of four spices
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp sambal oelek (it will get spicy, so you can use less or more)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves or thawed, 1 cup frozen spinach
2 plum tomatoes (or 4 larger cherry tomatoes) diced
1 tbsp soy sauce or fish sauce (start off easy, taste, add more)
a small squirt of fresh lime juice
black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
cooked basmati rice
1. Mix the cubed chicken with the spices and the sambal oelek and let stand at least 10 minutes. (I let it stand for a couple of hours)
2. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the garlic, ginger (add the lemon grass at this point if using) and stir for a minute.
3. Add the chicken, increase the heat and stir until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside.
4. Add coconut milk, bring to boil, cover and let it simmer until the chicken is cooked, some 10 minutes.
5. Add the spinach, tomatoes, and fish/soy sauce, and stir till the fresh spinach wilts (if using fresh) or till the tomatoes soften (I don’t particularly like the tomatoes being uncooked).
6. Check the seasoning; add the pepper, chopped cilantro and the squirt of lime juice.
7. Serve over basmati rice.
I can have this any day of the week 🙂 (I apologize for the highly unappetizing photo, but there really isn’t anything I can do. Well, maybe if I added three baby spinach leaves it would’ve looked better. But that’s not happening. You will just have to trust me on this one that this is DELICIOUS!)