May 21, 2011

Citrus-Basil Chicken with Coconut Rice

Today's featured recipe was inspired by one found at My Gourmet Connection.  The recipe there - Orange-Basil Chicken with Creamy Coconut Rice - looked okay, but I decided to change a few things to bring it more to my taste. Aside from changing the amounts of some ingredients, I felt the dish could only benefit from the addition of a bit of ginger, and I figured Jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk and orange juice would be flavorful enough that I could afford to drop the butter included in the original recipe, thereby cutting out a bit of fat.

The result:  Tender bits of chicken in a spicy-sweet, Thai-seasoned sauce, served atop creamy, slightly sweet rice.  I boosted the amount of lime juice from what was used in the original recipe, and also included some lime zest (the original recipe used only orange zest), and these changes helped give the sauce a more complex citrus flavor than  would have been the case had the flavor mix been more dominated by the orange.  The rice serves nicely to balance out the spiciness of the sauce, but even so, we reduced the amount of sriracha listed in the recipe, as the sauce was too spicy for Juli, and even a bit spicier than I prefer, when we made this dish with two tablespoons of sriracha.

Citrus-Basil Chicken with Coconut Rice

yield = 4 servings

4            tablespoons fish sauce
4            teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 1/2      pounds boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs),
                 cut into bite-size pieces
2            cups uncooked jasmine rice
2            cans (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1            cup orange juice + 2/3 cup
1/2         cup water + 1 tablespoon
1/4         teaspoon salt
3            tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2            tablespoons hoisin sauce
1            tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sriracha (Thai chili) sauce
1            tablespoon fresh, peeled and grated ginger
1            tablespoon lime zest
1            tablespoon lemon zest
2            tablespoons peanut oil
6            green onions, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1            cup (loosely packed) Thai basil leaves
              strips of lime and orange zest for garnish

Whisk the fish sauce and two teaspoons of the cornstarch together in a medium bowl.  Add the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat and set aside at room temperature.

While the chicken mixture rests, combine the rice, coconut milk, 1 cup of the orange juice, 1/2 cup water and the salt in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.  Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (15-20 minutes). 

After reducing the heat on the rice, combine the remaining 2/3 cup of orange juice, lime juice, hoisin sauce, sriracha, ginger, lime zest and orange zest in a small bowl.  Mix together, then set aside.  Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.  Stir to dissolve the cornstarch, then set aside.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the chicken and stir-fry, stirring frequently, 4-5 minutes.  Add the green onions and stir-fry for an additional minute, then stir in the orange juice-hoisin mixture.

Cook until bubbling, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for about 30 seconds or until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil leaves.

Fluff the rice and serve the chicken mixture atop the rice.

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