Thai Black Pepper Chicken
By: Lynn FriedaThis is one of my favourite and tastiest recipes, and what could be better than hot pepper chillies to warm the belly on a cold winter's night? The recipe couldn't be easier to make, and ingredients should be readily available. An indispensable staple of many Asian recipes, fish sauce (nuoc mam as it known in Vietnamese, or nam pla in Thai) can be found at most of the major local supermarket chains. At the very least, the Blue Dragon range offers one. Thai fragrant (jasmine) rice is basically the long-grain scented variety. Rice vinegar should be easy to find too, but if you need a substitute, try apple cider vinegar (also add a pinch of sugar if you like) or white wine vinegar or three parts white vinegar and one part water.
A note on Thai chillies: the general rule seems to be the smaller the hotter – and, many would argue, the better – so it really depends on taste. I usually get whatever my greengrocer has available, which are the larger types. If you like it hot, keep the seeds; if you remove them, you'll take away some of the fire. If you're unsure, carefully rub your fingers across the inside of the chilli and dab a small amount on your tongue. Regardless, dice into small bits. Lastly, top the dish off with the perfect Asian garnish – coriander! Enjoy!
110ml dark brown sugar
Roughly 55ml nam pla (fish sauce)
45ml rice vinegar
5ml minced garlic
5ml finely grated ginger
5ml coarsely ground black pepper
2 fresh Thai chillies, halved and diced (or more if you like it spicier)
15ml vegetable oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
5 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into 2.5cm pieces
steamed Thai fragrant rice
1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, water, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and chillies.
2. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan or wok. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat, just until softened (roughly 3–4 minutes).
3. Add the fish sauce mixture and the chicken. Simmer over high heat until the chicken is cooked through – about 10 minutes.
4. Serve over the rice and garnish with coriander.
© Recipe copyright 2005 Lynn Frieda