cabbage chicken pad thai.

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it’s technically like a no-noodle chicken cabbage pad thai curry, but i didn’t wanna throw you off with a weird long title.

also - super almost vegan (just remove chicken & use alt fish sauce) and super customizable in the veggie or protein department!

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AND… best news ever:

i finally figured out the missing flavor in homemade thai dishes that i’ve been searching for FOR-EV-ER.

i have made thai curries at home over and over and over, adding one new ingredient at a time that i always think will be THE ONE missing link, but it’s never been quite right…

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until now.

i have found it. this is the one.

LIME LEAVES, PEOPLE.

lime leaves.

i should have freakin known. there’s a whole thing in that movie no reservations with catherine zeta jones where she’s a chef and she hauls her chef boyfriend all over town looking for her signature secret ingredient - which ended up being kaffir lime leaves.

i knew it somewhere deep in my head.

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i was actually buying thai basil at the store and admiring these edible flowers. i noticed the box of “lime leaves,” took one sniff and i knew that was the flavor i’ve been searching for.

i pretty much ran home and made this right away. i was so excited to discover how much flavor lime leaves give off when you steep them in coconut milk. it’s such a specific taste and it really makes your homemade thai dishes extra legit.

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this is kind of a “curry” recipe because it has the base of a thai curry - then you add a TON of freshly shredded cabbage which soaks up all the coconut milk and all the salty curry flavors to become noodley! and then voila, it is a cabbage pad thai with ALL the right flavors.

at thai restaurants, pete & i usually order panang curry & chicken pad thai - and i always end up mixing them together a bit, so this recipe is kinda like that idea!

the tenderized cabbage actually does a pretty good impression of noodles in this form. i was so pleasantly surprised! just don’t over cook them so they keep a little bit of that al dente crunch & chewy factor.

plz don’t be intimidated by the ingredients list - you can do itttttt. and once you buy all the thai flavors/spices/jars of various things (fish sauce & red curry paste are just staples around here now!), you’ll be making thai food for daaaays.

think of them as a homemade thai food investment.

No-Noodle Cabbage Chicken Pad Thai

Serves 2-4

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large chicken breast, thawed & filleted

  • red chili flakes, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil.

  • 2 cloves or 1 TB garlic, minced

  • 2 TB fresh ginger, minced (or Gourmet Garden Ginger paste)

  • 1 TB Gourmet Garden Lemongrass paste, optional

  • 2 tsp. tamarind concentrate

  • 1 TB fish sauce

  • 1 1/2 TB. Thai red curry paste

  • 6-8 lime leaves, whole or ripped in half

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

  • 2 heaping cups green cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 2 heaping cups purple cabbage, thinly shredded with mandoline

  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 a green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, optional

  • mung bean sprouts

  • fresh Thai basil, lots!

  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped

  • 1 lime

  • fresh mint or cilantro, optional

Instructions -

Using a mandoline, shred the green & purple cabbage until you have at least 2 heaping cups of each. It should be about half a head of each cabbage. Shred or cut it to about the thickness of noodles (not too thin or the cabbage might get soggy).

In a large pan, cook the chicken breast in 1 TB olive oil and garlic on medium heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes for spice. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and allow it to rest on a cutting board before slicing.

In the same pan with the chicken & garlic remnants, add the sliced chicken back into the pan with fresh ginger, lemongrass paste (optional), tamarind concentrate, and red curry paste. Toss well to coat. (***Note: If you’re making this recipe using real noodles instead, cut down the salts by half [salt & fish sauce]. There’s extra sodium here to compensate for the large quantity of raw cabbage.)

Add 1 whole can of coconut milk to the pan and stir. Drop in all the lime leaves and some Thai basil to steep as it simmers on medium/low.

Prepare & slice the remaining veggies, herbs, and toppings.

Toss half of the green & purple cabbage in the coconut milk to coat. The liquid should thicken and become almost gravy-like. Add the remaining cabbage, bell peppers, and broccoli, if using. Toss everything to coat using tongs until the cabbage has tenderized and resembles the consistency of noodles. The liquid from the pan should mostly be soaked up into the cabbage “noodles” when it is ready to eat. You may remove the lime leaves before eating if desired - they are pretty tough to chew.

Divide into servings and top with lots of fresh Thai basil, mung bean sprouts, lime wedges & chopped peanuts. Optional: fresh mint, cilantro, or edible flowers for garnish.

Serve immediately and enjoy leftovers within 1-2 days.

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coconut chicken fresh rolls.

these are a bit of a labor of love, but always so worth the effort. fresh rolls in general are truly one of my favorite things to eat! 

love that chew + fresh flavor + crunch. and sauce(s)!  they've got it all, folks. 

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i personally wanna run to the hills when i need to use a mandoline to slice vegetables, so i'm sometimes willing to take the extra time to cut them all manually with a knife. 

but, if you're not jaded by your mandoline experiences - please use one and save lots of time!

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i've started using two rice papers per roll because you can hold a lot more goodies inside without the paper flimsy-ing out on you and making you want to quit. especially since these rolls have the bulk of the chicken and no rice vermicelli noodles, the 2nd rice paper adds that extra chew that we like. 

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it's tough for me to get away with making a dinner without meat around here. i'm pretty indifferent about the presence of meat as protein, but peter's convinced we've gone vegetarian when i make dinners without any meat. i just don't care, man. but... i DOOO care about this coconut chicken. because YUM it isss goooooood. simple to make, spicy, with a perfectly subtle coconut flavor. 

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we are having a real moment with FRESH MINT lately. fresh mint all ova! these fresh rolls use thai basil, cilantro AND fresh mint - so there's TONS of flavor. but we really think its the mint that takes the flavor over the top. 

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if you have a helper, these can come together in a flash once you have everything prepped. i'd recommend making the peanut sauce while the chicken is cooking, and slicing all the veggies while you're waiting for the chicken & coconut milk to simmer. 

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don't be too intimidated by the ingredients list since it's kinda 3 recipes going on - the coconut chicken, main ingredients for the rolls, and the peanut sauce. 

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these are so perfect for dinner now that it's springtime! peter & i have been on a picnic spree lately if there's nice weather in the evening. we are lucky to live next to the water and walk there with our picnic dinners, or just park our vw bus on the water side of the street and slide open the back door and chiiiiiill til the sun sets. either picnic method makes me very happy after 5 months of darkness & hibernation. yay for spring. 

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on our dinner picnic when we ate these very fresh rolls, pete said that i could "sell these for a million dollars." this is saying a lot because he's a food critic by night. lol. an up-vote from pete is a very strong approval rating. 

also these are just so FRESH and crunchy and delightful. if i had the patience to make 'em every day, i would!

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Coconut Chicken Fresh Rolls

Makes 6 large fresh rolls

Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 TB sambal oelek, garlic chile sauce, or sriracha
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  •  
  • 12 rice paper wraps
  • several large fresh chard leaves or green lettuce leaves
  • 1 cucumber, julienned or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large carrot, julienned or cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • mung bean sprouts
  • 4 green onion, chopped
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh thai basil
  • fresh mint
  • lime wedges
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, finely chopped, for garnish
  •  
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 1/2 a shallot clove
  • 1" knob of ginger
  • 1 TB sambal oelek, garlic chile sauce, or sriracha
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • pinch of salt

Instructions-

In a pan on medium heat, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and minced garlic until fragrant. Add the raw chicken and add a pinch of salt & pepper. Cover and cook for 4 minutes per side, adding another pinch of salt & pepper after the flip. Add 1 TB soy sauce and 1/2 a can of coconut milk and cook a few more minutes on medium-low until a gravy forms.

Place the cooked chicken breast on a cutting board to rest for a couple of minutes. Stir in 2 TB sambal oelek to the coconut milk gravy. Filet the chicken breast in half and shred the meat using two forks. Return the now shredded chicken to the pan, toss to coat and simmer everything on low until the gravy is thickened. 

While the chicken is cooking, you can begin chopping all the veggies or preparing the peanut sauce.

For the peanut sauce, add all peanut sauce ingredients listed in a food processor or blender until smooth. Store extras in a jar or airtight container in the fridge.

With all the components set up in an assembly line, lay a wet kitchen towel on a cutting board where you will build the rolls. Use a pie pan full of very hot water and soak 2 rice papers together at a time for about 20 seconds, until the papers are translucent and soft. Keep the 2 papers together and transfer flat onto the wet towel.

Place the green leaf lettuce or chard leaf as the first layer, followed by a sprinkle of chopped peanuts (keep peanuts away from the rice paper so it doesn't puncture). Add a little bit of the shredded chicken and all the prepared veggies, along with plenty of Thai basil, cilantro, fresh mint, and a squeeze of lime juice. Scoot the veggies toward one edge of the rice paper with your fingers, pull the rice paper up and over to cover the veggies, then fold the sides of the paper up to hold everything in (just like rolling a burrito). Keep everything as tightly bunched together as you continue to roll everything all the way up. 

Repeat with 2 rice papers per fresh roll until all the toppings are used up. Use a serrated knife to cut the rolls in half on a cutting board - press the knife down very firmly until it's cut in half and drag the knife firmly toward you to make a clean cut all the way through.

Enjoy immediately with peanut sauce. Eat within one day!

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