This is a variation on a dish I do often. It is inspired by Thai Panang, a peanut and coconut curry. On a spiciness scale of 1-10, this is a twelve... it hurts so good.
- 4-5 chicken thighs
- 3-4 small zucchini cut into 2 inch long strips
- 4-5 carrots cut into 2 inch long strips
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- 12 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter (creamy)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 5 splashes fish sauce
- 6-10 habañero peppers, sliced
- 6 jalapeño peppers, sliced
- juice of one lime
- zest of one lime
- cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper
First, make sure you've got everything prepped beforehand. Set the oven at about 180ºF to keep things warm. Heat oil in a large skillet, add carrots and toss to coat, then add zucchini and toss to coat. Let them cook at medium high heat until they're cooked but still crispy. Let your nose be your guide. Remove those to a bowl and place those in the warm oven to wait. Season the chicken pieces with salt, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Place the chicken in the hot oil and let it sear and get good color on one side before flipping the meat to cook all the way through on the other side. Remove the chicken to the bowl in the oven. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onions. Once the onions are soft, raise the heat and add the peppers. Once those are just starting to cook, add the lime zest and the basil and let those get really aromatic (should take less than a minute). Lower the heat to medium and add the peanut butter, stir it around to let it just start to get warm before adding the soy sauce, fish sauce and lime juice. Scrape up all the great stuck on bits on the pan, if it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water. Add the coconut milk, and stir to combine. Once it is all up to temperature and a fairly smooth consistency, bring the chicken and veggies out of the oven and start plating. I serve this in a bowl with rice. Start with a generous portion of rice, top with chicken to one side and carrots and zucchini to the other then ladle a very generous helping of sauce over the whole thing, you want to drown it in sauce. You can garnish each plate with a small sprig of basil and a lime wedge if you desire.
The crispy vegetables and well seasoned chicken do well with the firey peanut coconut sauce.
As written, this is spicy... as in nuclear reactor spicy. Have plenty of beer on hand. Also, the lime and basil are surprisingly important in this dish. They are what really take it up a couple of notches, and help keep it from just becoming spicy and nothing else.
This dish does well having most of it prepared beforehand, and being assembled after reheating. Which means it's also great as leftovers, assuming you've recovered from the flames in your gullet from the first run.
The first variation is to tone down the heat... you wimp. The simplest way to do that would be to forgo the habeñero peppers and just do jalapeño peppers or just do a couple of thai chiles instead. I've also done this dish using saté pepper sauce instead of the peppers. That gives a it a very different flavor, but I would do that when peppers aren't in season, which means zucchini isn't in season either, so I switch the zucchini out for broccoli.