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Spice Up Your winter With a Taste of Hot Vietnamese Chilli Chicken


Today I’m going to give you a great recipe for my collection of Southeast Asian food.  It’s hot and spicy and here’s the photo of what you can expect if you carry on reading below. The dish is called Vietnamese chilli chicken and it has this awesome flavour enhanced by peanut butter.


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Winter finally and hope it stays!


Winter seems to be giving us a whiff of its impending presence in the city. I hope of course it comes soon because winter is one of my favourite seasons. Who doesn’t love winter in a city like Kolkata? It not only makes for pleasant weather, it also heralds the time of festivals and fetes in the coming months. Winter also gives you the opportunity to try on all those fashionable and trendy winter wear hiding in wardrobes for months. Speaking about winter wear there’s this great site called Kraftly.com which is showcasing some fantastic winter fashion. Now I know this has nothing to do with food but you’ll be stunned at the amazing collection especially in women's wear and prices are reasonable too.

The Indian influence on Southeast Asian cuisine


Southeast Asian food shares many similarities with Indian flavours. That’s an obvious fact because Southeast Asian cuisine relies heavily on various spices used also in Indian curries. The only difference between these two historic regions is that there is tanginess to Southeast Asian food due to the use of elements like lemon grass and fish sauce. There is a valid reason for such a fact. Hinduism was a significant influence in ancient Southeast Asia. The largest religious structure in the world, Angkor Vat was at one time a seat of Hindu religion and culture when it was ultimately turned into a Buddhist temple in the late 12th century.

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Angkor Vat (img src.Cambodia.org)

In fact Hinduism was the predominant religion during the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. Angkor Vat was built by Khmer King Suryavarman II and dedicated it to Vishnu, a diversion from common Shaivite traditions of the day. Anyways coming back to food, such cultural and religious influences ultimately filtered down to food and that is why several common ingredients form the base of flavours in both cuisines.

From my experience in researching for the best possible recipe on Vietnamese Chilli Chicken, I found that recipes differ from region to region. Several chefs too have their own versions and as such I could never zero in on one particular recipe which is why I decided to combine certain elements to get one fantastic dish. I consider myself more of a recipe designer rather than a cook and it is this recipe which became a hit among customers of a restaurant which I once managed in Kolkata. This recipe I’m sharing with you. 

The recipe is an enhanced version of what is known as Ga Sao Sa Ot or lemon grass chilli chicken. You can be rest assured you’re going to love the awesome pungent and spicy flavour of this item that incorporates peanut butter which surprisingly is also a very traditional and common element in Southeast Asian food. Ok so let’s not bore you with my blabbering here’s the recipe.

Vietnamese Chili Chicken


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Recipe for 250 grams chicken
Boneless chicken leg portion cut into chunks
Chicken stock
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tblsp red chili paste
1 tblsp peanut butter
Sliced red chilies (not dry chilies)
Sliced red capsicum
1 small stalk Lemon grass
100 ml coconut milk
Curry leaves

Method

Mix chicken pieces with a bit of flour.  Heat oil in a wok or a non stick kadhai; add the ginger garlic paste and red chili past. Stir, add chicken and stir fry on semi high flame for 1 minute, lower flame and add lemon grass and curry leaves, red capsicum and sliced red chillies. Add chicken stock allow the chicken to simmer and cook. When almost cooked, add peanut butter and coconut milk, increase flame and reduce gravy to a thick consistency, (Add abit of liquidized cornflour to thicken gravy). Serve garnished with coconut powder and abit of coriander.

Now you need to remember certain things that enhance flavor of food. For one the stock is important. I never use cubes. I always make my stock from freshly cut chicken bones and you could even make a great soup from whatever remains. It would be ideal to make such a dish in a non stick pot or kadhai. It doesn’t require very high heat as in wok cooking neither will it take very long. You’ll know it’s cooked when the chicken pieces are tender. So that’s Vietnamese Chili Chicken for you. If you want to make it even spicier add more chilies.

If you want a nice starter to your meal then try this. It isn’t mine but I found it n an old cookbook and it tasted lovely.

Minced King fish (Surmai), chopped beans, chopped black mushroom, red curry paste, fish sauce, cornflour, egg. You can use bekti if you want.

Mix ingredients in mixer and make a paste. Shape as in the picture. Fit a long stalk of spring onion into the cakes. Then deep fry. Serve with spicy peanut sauce. (Peanut butter, ginger garlic paste, red chilli paste, sugar, salt, a dash of vinegar or fish sauce, a dash of soya sauce, hoisin sauce optional and a dash of lemon. cook for one minute with a bit of water) You could also make spicy peanut sauce using a paste made from raw unsalted peanuts.                                                                                                  

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