Category Archives: Thai

Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken

One of the best kitchen investments I have ever made is the slow cooker that I bought this year. Allow me for a moment to sing its praises… For a mere $11, a lovely 4-quart slow cooker was shipped to my door (a slick deal indeed!) Since that day, I have been salivating over all the delicious things I can make effortlessly in a slow cooker, all without turning on a stove or stepping outside my dorm room. It is the best appliance ever for a busy student like me, as well as for anyone out there who would love to have hot, homemade food without spending time cooking. You rarely have to check on the dish either, since slow cookers keep the liquids from evaporating, so food does not dry up and burn. The longer you cook meat in a slow cooker, the more tender it gets, until eventually it just falls right off the bone. In fact, I always have to prevent myself from constantly opening the lid to check up on the wonderful stuff stewing in my slow cooker, since opening it releases heat and slows down the cooking process. But… when my slow cooker sits in the same dorm room that I live in… it is impossible not to gravitate towards the delicious smells that fill my room! Also, since slow cookers are, by definition, cookers that cook slowly with low heat, I often like to take advantage of the nighttime, to cook in my slow cooker while I am sleeping! (Genius, if I do say so myself). With so many recipes calling for a cook time of 6-8 hours, it is ridiculously easy to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker before bed, and wake up to a pot of food that I can eat for lunch and dinner that day, all without spending time cooking over a stove. Yes, I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker.

slow cooker thai peanut chicken

In fact, my love for my slow cooker grew ever more when I discovered the blog “A Year of Slow Cooking“, by Stephanie O’Dea. She challenged herself to cook with a slow cooker for 365 days, and the recipes that she blogged about propelled her overnight into a slow cooker superstar. She now has two slow cooker recipe books published, and is essentially an internet celebrity. These recipes opened my eyes to just how much I could do with a slow cooker, and offered me tons of mouth-watering ideas as I was getting acquainted with my slow cooker. One of the first recipes I made with my slow cooker was this Thai peanut chicken that I adapted from Stephanie. My chicken was falling off the bone, and melt-in-your-mouth. The peanut sauce was balanced between the creamy taste of peanut butter and the savory flavor of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and was awesome with rice. I am definitely addicted to the sauce! Such a yummy, hearty chicken dish that required so little effort… now that’s what I’m talkin’ about :)

slow cooker thai peanut chicken



Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken (makes 4-6 servings, uses a 4-quart slow cooker)

Recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (may also use drumsticks, or mix and match!)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2  medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • (optional) freshly chopped scallions for garnish

Directions:

1. Stir together lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and curry powder. The peanut butter doesn’t have to be completely well-dissolved, but do your best. Set sauce aside. Prepare vegetables.

prepared ingredients and sauce

2. Place sliced garlic at bottom of 4-quart slow cooker. Place chicken thighs on top, spreading them out to cover the bottom of the cooker. Add potatoes next, and finally the peppers and the onions. Pour prepared sauce into slow cooker.

slow cooker loaded up and ready to cook

3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, then increase heat to high for 2 hours. (Or you may cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours). Stir contents once or twice after initial 4 hours, but refrain from opening lid to check on the dish!

don't open the lid!

4. Adjust sauce for taste at the end as needed. If you would like a thicker sauce (which I always like), you may remove the chicken and boil the sauce on high with the lid off, or add a cornstarch slurry and allow to boil on high with the lid on until thickened. Serve over rice, top with freshly chopped scallions and enjoy! Mmmm!

a second batch that I made with red peppers

slow cooker thai peanut chicken


Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Toasted Coconut

Yesterday, my friend who lives down the hall from me came and knocked on my door. She was holding a can of unsweetened coconut milk that she purchased on a whim because she thought it might be interesting to drink. Heh… after the first few sips I think she realized that this stuff isn’t for drinking :P She asked me if I knew of anything I could make with coconut milk so that it wouldn’t go to waste, so I went about looking for dessert ideas that would not require me going out to shop for ingredients. I wanted the coconut milk to be the star of the show, since I had a whole can to use up, which made an Asian dessert the most likely candidate. I did not have any frozen taro on hand to make the taro sago dessert I have made before, but I did have some mini tapioca balls left over from the last time I made taro sago. A quick search for Thai desserts using coconut milk yielded several recipes for a thick and creamy coconut tapioca pudding with either bananas or mangoes, which sounded divine to me. (The other option was coconut dulce de leche, which also sounds amazing and I bookmarked it for another time, yum.)

Coconut tapioca pudding with mango and toasted coconut

I have never made tapioca pudding on my own before, but there’s always a first time for everything! This recipe is super simple and makes for a surprisingly rich and velvety pudding that leads with its coconut flavor in every spoonful. If you are a coconut lover, I promise you will go nuts for this pudding. I combined ideas from several different recipes I saw online, adapting the pudding itself while adding mango chunks and toasted shredded coconut for a more sophisticated, Thai-inspired flavor. This coconut tapioca pudding is so easy to put together and yet has several components that come together for an elegant and tropical presentation, I’m sure you will impress your guests when you serve it as a finale to your Asian-themed dinner. For bonus style points, I also highly suggest serving it in classy martini glasses!

Coconut tapioca pudding with mango and toasted coconut



Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango and Toasted Coconut (serves 4)

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes and About.com

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry mini tapioca
  • 1 can (14 oz.) of unsweetened coconut milk (not coconut cream or cream of coconut)
  • 1/2 cup milk (adjust amount as needed)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar (I would use even less next time)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup cubed mango chunks
  • Sweetened shredded coconut for garnish

Directions:

1. Soak mini tapioca in lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Strain excess water and place tapioca in a medium saucepot.

2. Reserve 2-3 tbsp of coconut milk and set aside. Pour remaining coconut milk into the pot with the tapioca. Add salt, and gently stir contents while bringing them to a boil on high heat.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tapioca are completely translucent in the center and the pudding has thickened up, stirring occasionally. You may add the milk in small amounts until you reach a pudding consistency that you like. Halfway through the simmering process, stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. Note: you may use granulated sugar if you would like your coconut tapioca pudding to be a whiter color, otherwise the brown sugar will make the pudding a light caramel shade.

cooking the pudding

4. Meanwhile, cover a baking sheet with foil and spread a thin layer of sweetened shredded coconut on top. Toast in a 350 degree oven on the lower rack just until most of the coconut starts to turn a light brown (it took about 6 minutes for me). Toss briefly and then remove from oven to cool. Keep an eye on that coconut because it will burn fast if you don’t pay attention! (Also, I never knew that toasted sweetened shredded coconut could taste so good, it’s kind of like crack! Me and my friend who was helping me could not stop munching on it!)

toasted sweetened shredded coconut

4. Once your pudding is done cooking after you have adjusted for taste and consistency with the milk, remove pudding from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

5. Assemble your pudding when you are ready to serve it (it was delicious warm but you may also consider chilling it first also). Spoon the pudding into your bowl, top with toasted shredded coconut and chopped mango pieces. Finally, drizzle on your reserved coconut milk to finish it all off, and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

coconut tapioca pudding with mango and toasted coconut


And a few more…

In my ever-continuing quest to mimic Cafe Mami's pork cutlet curry in the comfort of my own home, I had the idea to make mock pork cutlet by taking pork tenderloin and baking it in Shake n' Bake to get a crunchy coating. I also had some Vermont House brand Japanese curry roux cubes, so my boyfriend and I whipped up this dish for dinner. We only had onions in the curry sauce, but we kept it separate from the meat unlike last time when I made it. The taste was actually quite good, though we could have used more sauce and less onions. The only thing was that the flavor of the Shake n' Bake crumb coat on the pork competed with the curry flavor (unlike the milder flavor of simple fried pork cutlet), and the tenderloin was very lean, which was a bit different in texture from the restaurant cutlet (read: fatty). But hey I'm getting closer to the real thing, and this is probably about as healthy as the dish is going to get heh.

My boyfriend made this yummy dinner for us on a night when I was busy experimenting with another baked good that I'll post momentarily :P He used fresh ground lean pork for the meat, and added onions, garlic, home-grown tomatoes from his aunt's backyard, milk, and some jarred pasta sauce for this tasty bolognese sauce. Only he knows the entire recipe, but I know that you first saute the onions, then you add the ground meat and cook until just starting to brown. Then you add the tomatoes (we substituted the fresh tomatoes for the canned crushed tomatoes in the recipe), milk, and water and let it stew for a while to break down the tomatoes. Finally he added some jarred pasta sauce to give the flavor a boost, and the final product was definitely legit. It went perfectly with spaghetti, and I imagine it would have been quite good with a side of homemade garlic bread as well.

When we have no vegetables to cook with our dinner, our ideas begin to get pretty crazy. Luckily my boyfriend found time to stop by the convenience store and buy a box of Annie's deluxe shells n' cheese, as well as a bag of frozen sweet peas. With the starch and vegetable on hand, we set out to figure out the rest of the dinner. We had a lot of frozen boneless skinless chicken thighs, so we thawed out a bunch and went about experimenting with them. I made Thai peanut chicken, and my boyfriend made some sort of garlic salt rubbed chicken. I butterflied the chicken thighs so that I could pan sear them without overcooking them (we don't have an oven-safe skillet, so baking or broiling them is out of the question). Then I marinated in a mixture of salt, sugar, Kikkoman's roasted garlic teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, white pepper, cornstarch, and olive oil, for about 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile I whipped up some peanut sauce by whisking together smooth peanut butter, water, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce. When the thighs were ready to cook, I sauteed them in a medium hot pan until both sides were nicely browned. Then I poured the peanut sauce on top to finish, cooking for only a minute or two just to heat through the sauce and coat the chicken nicely. And that was dinner! Plated with the mac n' cheese, peas, and some garlic parmesan roasted potatoes, it was a delicious dinner (though with too many peas for my taste). I especially liked how moist and tender the chicken was, and the sauce gave it a lot of flavor. It's not quite the same taste as the Thai peanut chicken lunchbox I like to get at the Asian food truck at my school, because I couldn't figure out how to mimic their peanut sauce, but I still enjoyed it and it was great for lunch the next day :)

This was a meal made using the help of a small George Foreman grill! Okay, admittedly I am not very adept at using it, and I was always afraid I'd set off the fire alarm from producing too much smoke. I marinated chicken thighs in a mixture of Grey Poupon (my favorite) dijon mustard, honey, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then I threw them on the Foreman grill with some cooking spray, and closed the lid. But the sugar content in the honey mustard marinade began to burn very quickly, as I hadn't thought of the fact that the recipe was designed for real grills where charring is okay, whereas I definitely didn't want smoke and charring in my room. So I shifted the grill into the hallway next to a window to finish grilling the chicken, and it took a while b/c the thighs were thick. So by the time I was done, the outside of the chicken was blackened, you can see it in the picture above. The flavor was really good, as you could taste the honey mustard sauce and since I grilled the chicken until it was just done, the meat was still very juicy. My boyfriend went about cooking up some Chinese eggplant with garlic, and we made some chicken flavored Rice-a-Roni on the side. The whole meal came together nicely, I just wish cooking the chicken hadn't been such a hassle lol.

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Now, for some eating out experiences…

My parents took me out to a new dim sum place the other day, called Jin. I've gone there before for their 24/7 Chinese buffet whose selection (and price tag) is the largest of any Asian buffets in all of North America. They have Peking duck, lobster, sushi, prime rib, and all sorts of other foods and desserts that you could possibly want. Anyway, I digress. They have started offering a new venue which is Saturday morning dim sum. Every single dish regardless of size or ingredients are $1.99. In comparison to all the other dim sum places in Chinatown, this price is phenomenal. Dim sum is usually offered at about $2 per small dish, $3 per medium dish, and $4-5 per large dish. So it's a huge savings, with the downside being the location (Jin is like a 20 minute drive from Chinatown), and the somewhat limited variety. In the picture above, clockwise from the top dish, we have pork ribs in with black bean, steamed beef tripe, fish balls with ground pork filling, and stewed chicken feet, which is also often called Phoenix claws in Chinese. I despise tripe, but the other three dishes were yummy. Chicken feet and pork ribs are two of my dim sum favorites!

Here we have roast pork buns at the top, flanked with dishes of shrimp-filled and ground beef-filled chang fun (which are steamed rice noodle rolls), in a soy ginger sauce. I love the shrimp chang fun, because they are tender and mild, and when they are made fresh the rice noodle wrap slides down your throat without feeling sticky. It's a real pleasure to eat.

These are called dragon puffs (or something like that, I can't remember anymore), but they are a ball of ground shrimp with a fried outer coating of shredded wonton wrapper. It's a delicately crispy (albeit messy) puff and the flavor of the shrimp inside is enough to ensure that the puff isn't too bland. I just though they were quite pretty, but I'm not too big on the fried coating.

This past weekend I went with my lab and the other labs in my research institute for a scientific retreat in New Hampshire. It was cold and rained quite a bit, but I had a lot of fun getting to know my lab members better, listening to presentations of the research being done, doing fun activities like mountain biking, and of course taking advantage of the free food :)

Our first meal was dinner on Friday night (after a cocktail hour with calamari and chicken peanut satay skewers), and I got the filet mignon entree which came with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed baby carrots. The filet was delicious, it was tender without being overly mushy, and the mashed potatoes were creamy. My only complaint was that the filet mignon needed more of the sauce, as it clearly was not cooked with any sauce of its own. In fact, judging by its pale color I think that it was boiled prior to being quickly seared for grill marks. I have never seen such pale steak before. The mushroom based gravy went well with it but just wasn't enough for all the meat. I never actually finished the filet mignon (*gasp*) because I had gotten too full on food from the cocktail hour and the clam chowder and salad that came prior to the entree. So I actually only ate 3/4 of the filet. Oh well, at least it didn't cost me any money :P

Dessert was a fudgey molten chocolate cake (that I really wish I had more room for). It was different from the molten chocolate cake from places like Finale, because the outer cake layer was very fudgey as opposed to cakey. The center was of course still melted chocolate. It was warm and sweet, pairing quite well with the tartness of the raspberry sauce. Just thinking about it now is making me a little weak in the knees haha. Seriously, if there was any simple comfort dessert that could always hit the spot, it would be something like this. Mmmmm….

Um yes this should be self-explanatory. Don't make me go back in the detail about how sinfully good the desserts were :P I tried to control myself and only ate about half of each baby cheesecake. Yay.

And of course, the highlight of the weekend was all-you-can-eat steamed lobster! It was funny watching everyone else trying to eat lobster like an amateur, they don't even eat the meat from the head! They only know to eat the tail and the claws. What a waste of great lobster meat. It was funny, because we had the dinner in an outdoor tent area, and it was so chilly at night that my drawn butter re-solidified before I even tried to use it for dipping. Haha kind of defeats the purpose, but maybe that was for the best. I had 2 lobsters before I started to feel kind of sick of the texture and flavor, and finished off with a few slices of refreshing watermelon. What a luxury!


Thursday, May 3rd

11:00AM Molecular Biology Lecture
1 Bosc pear, 1 medium banana, 1 Promax mini-bar. 1/2 bottle of water (8.5 oz).

3:00PM MIT Northwest Shuttle
1 Promax mini-bar. 1/2 bottle of water (8.5 oz). What's with the non-lunch today? Well I have a mixer to go to tonight at Harvard Medical School, and there's going to be dinner provided, so that means I gotta eat carefully throughout the day.

6:15PM Harvard Medical School – Toteson Building
Assorted Thai food from Brown Sugar: pad thai with shrimp and chicken, thai fried rice with chicken, assorted vegetables in coconut curry, cashew chicken with vegetables, and thai basil chicken with vegetables. I got a plate with a bit of each dish, and they were all really good. None of the dishes were very spicy, and the pad thai and the fried rice were both not greasy, which was nice. Flavors were savory-sweetish all around, which I liked, and the vegetables were not overcooked or boring. The only complaint is that the chicken was a bit monotonous. The same strips of dry white meat chicken were found in every single dish. But since it's a free meal, I still can't really complain haha. I had 2 cups of Pepsi One with dinner (14 oz). No pictures, sorry! Wasn't an appropriate place to take any, and plus it was just random food piled onto a plate, not too pretty.

12:00AM-3:45AM Dorm Room
22 oz. of water.


Saturday, April 21st

11:20AM Dorm Room
1 red delicious apple. I had a meeting to go to in Harvard Square at noon, so I was in a rush and ate an apple for “breakfast”. It wasn’t bad, except it takes me a long time to eat apples. I don’t know why haha. Sometimes apples even make my mouth and throat tingle, kind of like a fruit allergy. I heard you can get that if there are certain types of fruit you don’t eat often. Yup…

2:30PM Dorm Room
Back from meeting. I ate my leftover pad thai with roast pork that I brought back from the galleria yesterday.

7:45PM Baker Spring Formal
Baker spring formal isn’t really a formal… it’s more of a semi-formal event where people dress up a little and enjoy a catered meal with free champagne and wine in our decorated dining hall. This year I went with my friend and we got a chance to catch up, which was nice. The food was mostly Italian. I had 3 medium sized meatballs (I know, isn’t that random? It didn’t have pasta to go with it), and 3 chicken wings. Some random bites of mixed greens. One white chocolate with macadamia nuts cookie. One glass of Chardonay champagne. The entree part was pretty weird huh. Just meatballs and chicken wings. The only other option was baked manicotti, which I despise. Shells stuffed with ricotta cheese and bathed in marinara sauce really just isn’t my thing. Oh well, even though the food wasn’t that exciting, it was free at least, and I had fun hanging out with my friend Vicki.

 

 


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