Friday, March 19, 2010

You Put the Lime in the Coconut

Around this time last year, Keith and I were on our honeymoon at the Gran Bahia Principe on the Riviera Maya. Our days mostly consisted of great food, great drinks, beautiful beaches and the sound of the ocean.  Our daily routine involved getting up to watch an amazing sunset, followed by a huge breakfast and a morning nap.  Our favorite drink was a Coco Loco (a delicious frozen combination of gin, coconut creme and lime juice).  We had absolutely zero responsibilities or concerns.

Keith double-fisting (double-slurping?).  The tall one's a Coco Loco.

Me sipping on a margarita.  Ah, memories!

It's a pretty big contrast between those days and now, where we both seem to be frantically busy all the time lately.  Between Keith finishing school and my job ramping up towards the busy season and the job hunt and the uncertainty of where we'll be this time next year, there's just not a lot about our lives that feels carefree at the moment.  But last night we made Chicken Coconut Curry- and it's exotic mixture of spices, lime juice and coconut milk, reminiscent of Coco Locos, certainly brought a smile to my face.  And maybe, just for a second, lightened the load a bit.

Chicken Coconut Curry
No photos of this one...sorry!  But if we had taken one, you'd notice a distinctly green color.  It's a fun dish.

  • Two Tbsp. oil (we always use olive)
  • One small onion, chopped
  • One 13.5 oz can of lite coconut milk (we found it in the Asian foods section)
  • 1/4 cup of low-sodium chicken broth
  • One Tbsp. curry paste (the recipe says green curry paste, we could only find red.  It was still delicious.  Use whatever you can get  your hands on.)
  • One small eggplant, peeled and chopped into big chunks
  • Two large chicken breasts cut into inch wide strips
  • Juice from one lime

Heat oil in a big, straight-sided skillet (chef's pan) over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cooks until soft and fragrant (around 5 mins).  Pour in coconut milk and chicken broth, stir in curry paste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until reduced and thickened (about 8 mins).  A note on the curry paste: It is potent!  It is really, really flavorful and it packs the heat.  So if you're sensitive to spicy, you might want to use half.

Once sauce is reduced, add eggplant and chicken.  Return to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until chicken is cooked through and eggplant is soft (8-9 mins).  You could also add a few handfuls of fresh spinach for the last minute of cooking.  We forgot to put it on our grocery list, so we did without and believe me, we didn't even miss it.  Stir in lime juice just before serving and season to taste with salt.  

This dish would be really good over some steamed brown rice.  Of course, that takes 45 minutes to cook, and the curry only takes about 20, and we didn't time it right and waited too late to start dinner so once again, we did without and once again, we didn't feel like we missed anything at all.

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