Plans to go out for lunch got screwed and it fell upon me to cook a quick meal that wouldn’t leave us feeling forlorn and sorry for ourselves. And by “quick” I don’t mean just quick thinking but being pre-prepared for emergencies. For instance, when we buy chicken thigh fillets, we buy them by the tray with about a dozen and a half pieces in the pack. But since half a dozen chicken thigh fillets is too much for the three of us who eat meat, I divide the fillets into portions and keep them in separate containers in the freezer.
So, today, when it became apparent that our lunch date would go up in smoke, I took out one container of chicken thigh fillets and the meat was thawed in less than half an hour. The plan was to cook chicken teriyaki but with no time to marinate the meat, I wondered how I could add more flavor to the dish. Additional seasonings perhaps for contrast? Or some unexpected toppings?
The chicken thigh fillets were already browning in a little oil when I thought about our kaffir lime tree which bears more leaves and fruits than I can cook. And then there were the chilies that grow so abundantly that they are just falling to the ground. It’s a good thing too that I thought about them at that exact moment because I barely had enough time to pluck a kaffir lime, a pair of kaffir lime leaves, and about four chilies when the rain started to fall.
So, when the chicken thigh fillets were nicely browned and ready to braise, I added the kaffir lime leaf and the chopped chilies just after the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger and garlic. Call it a fusion of Japanese cooking and Thai cuisine, or call it a bastardized dish — I really don’t care. It is delicious and that’s all that matters.
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 6 chicken thigh fillets (or less if they are large), skins on
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 12 tablespoons sweet rice wine
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic pounded
- 1 pair kaffir lime leaves
- 4 bird's eye chilies
- chopped roasted cashew nuts to garnish
- thinly sliced scallions to garnish
Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.
Add the chicken thigh fillets to the hot oil, skin side down. Cook until the skin is lightly browned. Flip the fillets over to brown the opposite side.
Pour in the soy sauce and rice wine.
Stir in the ginger and garlic.
Drop in the kaffir lime leaf and chilies.
Cook over medium heat, uncovered with occasional flipping, until only a couple of tablespoonfuls of sauce is left. The sauce will darken and thicken as it reduces. If the temperature is correct, the sauce should have reduced in about 10 minutes and the chicken fillets should be done by that time too.
Scoop out the cooked chicken and move to a chopping board.
Squirt the juice of half a kaffir lime (or a lime or lemon) into the thickened sauce to thin it out a pit and make it pourable.
Slice the chicken into half-inch strips.
Half fill three bowls with rice.
Arrange the chicken strips on top of the rice. Drizzle a tablespoonful or so of sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with scallions and cashew nuts. Serve at once.
More teriyaki goodness:
Shiitake mushrooms and green beans with teriyaki sauce (vegan)
Tofu and spinach with teriyaki sauce (vegan)
Tofu and mushrooms teriyaki (vegan)
Chicken teriyaki sandwich
Broiled salmon teriyaki