It might look like the ubiquitous guinataan (the Filipino term for most savory dishes cooked with coconut milk) but it isn’t. This coconut lime chili chicken is flavored with kaffir lime leaves which add an incomparable aroma to the dish. And, to provide a delicious contract to the natural sweetness of coconut milk and the heat of the chilies, the juice of a lime is squeezed over the chicken just before serving.
Is this coconut lime chicken Asian? Perhaps. This dish is quite similar to the Thai chicken coconut soup called tom kha gai. But the combination of coconut milk and citrus juice sounds Caribbean too. I wouldn’t bother with the regional origin of the dish if I were you. Suffice to say that it’s easy to cook and it’s delicious to a point where you might want to consider doubling the ingredients so that everyone can enjoy a second or even a third helping.
The cooking procedure is pretty straightforward. Brown the chicken. Add the seasonings and aromatics. Pour in the coconut milk and simmer. Turn off the heat, squeeze in the lime juice, stir a little, transfer everything to a bowl, serve and enjoy.
- 6 chicken legs (drumsticks)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- one-inch knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 pairs kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies, finely chopped (see tip)
- fish sauce, to taste
- ground black pepper
- 1 and ½ cups fresh coconut milk (you may substitute canned or powdered)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (lemon juice may be substituted)
- finely sliced scallions and one finely-sliced chili, to garnish
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan wide enough to accommodate the chicken legs in a single layer.
- Over high heat, brown the chicken on both sides.
- Add the ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, chilies and a tablespoon of fish sauce. Sprinkle in some black pepper.
- Pour in the coconut milk. Swirl the pan to distribute the ingredients evenly. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), lower the heat, cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done and the coconut milk has reduced and thickened.
- Turn off the heat. Taste the sauce. Add more fish sauce, if needed. Drizzle in the lime juice. Stir a few times.
- Scoop out the chicken legs and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the sauce and spices around them. Top with sliced scallions and finely-sliced chili. Serve the coconut lime chili chicken hot.