It’s a Thursday night. No, whoops – it’s a Wednesday night. You think. Either way, the week’s not over yet, and there’s still dinner to plan for the night. So you drive to Trader Joe’s on the way home, wracking your brain for a mental inventory of the contents of your pantry. There’s some peanut butter. Apple cider vinegar, check. Red curry paste in the fridge. Definitely a bottle of fish sauce… I don’t know about you, but this is often how my evenings go. This is why I tend to gravitate towards simple, staple-driven meals like the chicken satay and spicy thai slaw below. If dinner involves no more than picking up some chicken and shredded cabbage, I am infinitely more likely to cook a meal for myself. And much less likely to, say, make a bag of popcorn and sit on the couch drinking red wine.
The peanut sauce comes together easily with some attentive stirring and the chicken requires no more than a dash of olive oil and the usual S&P. The dressing is assembled similarly–my favorite recipes are usually those that begin “combine the first n ingredients…” where n is effectively the entire ingredient list. For added ease, a prepared slaw mix and some torn cilantro are enough for the salad base. This can be tossed with the dressing a few minutes before serving to give the cabbage a tender bite. We suggest serving the salad with an extra slice of lime for those of us who can’t get enough. One of the best parts about this dinner (besides the heavenly, sweet, and mildly spicy satay and the crisp, tangy salad) is that it’s scalable and produces leftovers that you’ll look forward too all morning the next day. I tossed some of the extra chicken with a little chopped-up cabbage and the remaining dressing for a quick salad for dinner on Friday – sorry, Thursday.
Chicken Satay (Adapted from She Simmers Blog) – Serves 4 (plus extra sauce: stay tuned!)
- One 13.5-ounce can of full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/4 cup of Thai red curry paste
- 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter (Our note: this is the kind that comes separated)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 pound chicken tenders or slice skinless, boneless breast
- Put everything into a medium heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly
- Let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes over low heat; be careful not to let the mixture scorch at the bottom of the pot.
- Take the pot off the heat, let the sauce cool down to room temperature (or slightly warmer).
- Toss chicken with oil, salt, and pepper and bake in oven for 15 minutes. When nearly done, move chicken to broiler to brown and crisp.
- Top chicken with peanut sauce and serve.
Spicy Thai Slaw (Adapted from “Thai Kitchen Recipes” site) – Serves 4-6
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
- 1/4 head purple cabbage, chopped
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 2 radishes, sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- Mix first six ingredients in a pan over medium heat and simmer, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Cool.
- Combine cabbage, carrot, and cilantro in a large bowl. Toss with dressing as desired.