Coconut Pistachio Chicken and Rice

coconut pistachio chicken
I think this is another of those dishes that doesn’t look very beautiful, but tastes delicious… Originally from here, this dish takes only about 35 minutes to put together, and has great flavor. For those living in Japan, there are a few ingredients you may have to hunt down (coconut milk, green peas, and pistachios — check import stores and local supermarkets), but I think it’s worth it!

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 chicken breasts, cut into 5cm / 2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1-1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups uncooked rice*
3 cloves garlic, minced
660mL (2-3/4 cups) chicken/vegetable broth
1 can (400mL / 14oz) coconut milk
1 cup green peas
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped

*Rice: I used short-grain Japanese rice and it turned out fine

Instructions
Sprinkle the chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper, and coat them in the flour. Using a large frying pan, saute in the oil for a few minutes on each side until light brown. (They don’t need to be cooked through at this point.) Remove chicken to a plate.

In the same pan, add the minced onion, garam masala, and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Stir frequently to make sure the spices don’t burn.

Add the rice, minced garlic, chicken or veggie broth, and coconut milk, and stir. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, or the rice will stick to the bottom.

Add the chicken back into the rice, cover again, and cook for 10 more minutes. Continue to stir once in a while.

Finally, add the peas (you can add them frozen directly into the pan) and pistachios. Stir to combine (and warm the peas, if they’re frozen), and serve!

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Chicken Piccata

picattaChicken Piccata is a famous Italian version of a lemon chicken dish. In the recipe below, you can skip the lemon slices if you like – they make a pretty presentation, but you can’t really eat them. The only difficult ingredient for those living in Japan is the capers. I’ve found them at various supermarkets, so you may need to look around or try a larger store.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken cutlets
salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
60mL (1/4 cup) white wine
120mL (1/2 cup) low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp butter
parsley
lemon slices, optional

Instructions

Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper on both sides, and dust with the flour. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Add the minced garlic and wine, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers. Bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan and cook for a minute or two on each side. Add the lemon slices and butter to the pan, and let the butter melt.

Pour the sauce over the cutlets to serve, and garnish with parsley.

White Bean Chili

white chiliThis chili is great in the winter. In Japan, beans can be hard to find, but you can buy them at import stores, or online. This recipe is adapted from here.

Ingredients
450g (1 lb) chicken breast
1 onion
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oil
2 cans white beans (or 4 cups cooked white beans)
400mL (14oz) chicken or vegetable stock
2 cans green chiles (In Japan, these are not easily available. Instead you can use fresh peppers, such as togarashi, or a small amount of dry pepper flakes.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream (this amount can definitely be reduced)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and chicken until the chicken loses its pink color.

Add the garlic powder, beans, stock, chiles, salt, cumin, oregano, pepper, and cayenne. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Add sour cream and cream, and reheat just until simmering.

Serve with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, tomato slices, etc.

Coconut Cashew Curry

IMG_7439I’m always trying out new recipes for curry. This is my latest one, and we really enjoyed it. It ended up being very flavorful and a good, inexpensive, filling dinner that included plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. I sometimes leave out the chicken or replace it with tofu, in which case this recipe is vegan.

Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomato (canned diced tomato is fine)
3/4 cup cashews, divided
2 cups (480 mL) vegetable broth (chicken would be OK too)
2 to 2-1/2 cups vegetables of your choice, sliced or chopped into bite-size pieces
2 chicken breasts (optional – leave out or replace with cubes of 木綿/firm tofu)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 tsp each cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, fennel, and kaffir lime powder**
1/4 tsp each cayenne pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch (optional; see recipe)
Rice for serving

* Vegetables: really, you can use whatever you like here. I always use what I have on hand or what is on sale or in season at the moment. Some of my favorites are asparagus, green beans, zucchini, carrots, and… daikon, which is great in curry and has a similar taste and texture to potato when cooked.

** Kaffir lime powder is a seasoning I found here in Japan but have never seen elsewhere, so i don’t know how common it is. You can leave it out, or add a little extra lemon or lime juice if you like instead.

Instructions

Heat the vegetable oil in a 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Saute the sliced onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the tomato. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomato has broken down and most of the juice is gone.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in the oven or in a dry pan over medium heat on the stove.

Let cool for a few minutes, then scrape the mixture into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup toasted cashews and some of the vegetable broth (depending on how much your appliance can hold) so the mixture will blend. Process until smooth.

Return to the pot with the remaining vegetable broth and heat to a simmer. Add any vegetables that need time to cook (for example, daikon, carrot). Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the sliced chicken and coconut milk and stir. Simmer for about 10 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Add the spices and lemon juice and mix well. If the curry is not thick enough, you can add the cornstarch, mixed with a tablespoon of water, and cook for two to three minutes until thickened.

Taste and add salt if necessary (it depends how salty your broth is).

Serve over white or brown rice, with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted cashews sprinkled on top!

Thai Basil Chicken

IMG_6265This is a version of the well-known Thai dish, although it’s completely inauthentic. I first ate it in Japan, where they removed the spice completely to suit Japanese tastes, but re-created it at home. Feel free to up the spice level to your liking!.

Ingredients (serves 2 generously)
200g (1/2 lb) ground chicken
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped or sliced
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp pepper flakes (increase this, or add fresh chilis, for spice)
1 large handful fresh basil leaves
2 eggs (optional)
2 servings cooked Asian or Jasmine rice for serving

Instructions

Saute ground chicken in a pan over medium heat until it starts to lose its pink color. Add onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes, until onion softens.

Add fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, and pepper flakes and continue to stir and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat.

Tear up the basil leaves and stir them in until they wilt from the heat.

Divide into two portions and serve over rice. Optionally, top each serving with a fried egg.

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has a really nice Asian flavor, and is really delicious hot, warm, or cold! Original recipe is from allrecipes.com, but I’ve adjusted it to be more healthy (less chicken, more veggies, and less oil).

Japan Note: Bow-tie shaped pasta is not very easily found in my area (though I have found it at an import store). I have substituted rotini or ziti shapes with success. Though spaghetti is definitely the most common Western-style pasta here, I’m not sure how well it would work in this recipe.

Ingredients
1/4 cup sesame seeds
16oz (454g) bow-tie pasta
1/4 cup (60mL) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80mL) soy sauce
1/3 cup (80mL) rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1-2 cups steamed veggies, cut into bite-size pieces (I like snow peas, broccoli, and carrots)

Instructions

Spread sesame seeds in a dry pan and toast on low heat until fragrant. Be careful not to let them burn.

Cook pasta as directed on package and drain.

Whisk together oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, and pepper together and pour over pasta. Mix in chicken, green onion, and veggies. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

This pasta salad is good hot or at room temperature. If you can give it a little time to marinate, it’s even better, as the pasta soaks up more of the dressing.

Peanut Chicken

I invented this crispy peanut chicken recipe as a copy of a dish that my husband used to eat at a Chinese restaurant in the U.S. It’s definitely not the healthiest dish, but once in a while we really enjoy this for dinner.

Japan notes: Peanut butter is definitely available in Japan, in small, expensive jars. American brands are sold at import stores and some grocery stores. I have never tried the Japanese product called “peanut cream,” so I don’t know how that compares. We usually get our peanut butter from loving family members who send it from the U.S.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tbsp sake or rice wine
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup peanut butter (we prefer chunky)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
extra vegetable oil for frying
1 tbsp sesame oil

Squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into a bowl. Add sake and mix. Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Add the chicken to the bowl, add a sprinkle each of salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Let the chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Coat the chicken in cornstarch. I find the easiest way is to put the chicken pieces and cornstarch in a bowl, cover with a lid, and shake it to coat them evenly.

Heat about 2″ vegetable oil on the stove and add sesame oil for flavor. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken a few pieces at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels to remove extra oil.

Make the peanut sauce by heating the peanut butter in a saucepan over low heat until it softens. Add the sugar and vegetable oil and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.

To serve, I like to put the chicken on the plate and drizzle peanut sauce over. This keeps the chicken crispy. I usually serve this with rice and some green veggies. The peanut sauce is good over the vegetable as well!