Hellooooo my friends.  I made some delicious “ethnic” food a few days ago (I really dislike using that term as it necessarily implies that anything else is normal…. but I’m using it anyway.  I know I know I’m a hypocrite).  These two dishes were surprisingly easy to make concurrently and took less than 1 hour (a miracle!).  I got the West African Chicken recipe from here, but of course being alarmed that there were no veggies, I made up the potato dish to go alongside it.  They pair quite nicely, though I used a particular type of curry that most people probably don’t have.  Worth it to buy though!  I got mine from a street market in New York City a few years back.  West Indian curry has a distinctive taste, probably a bit on the strong side, but it’s a handy spice to have if you’re lazy and want to make something quick and anchored with flavor.

I made some brown rice, too.  I’m somewhat up in the air about brown rice.  I know it’s better for me than white rice, but I am Chinese after all, and white rice is my energy source.  Without it, I would perish.  Anyway, for this particular dinner, the brown rice was a very good idea, as it added a very nice texture to the meal.  (Tip) If you don’t already have a rice cooker, a) I don’t know how you can even live with yourself and b) get one.  They’re extremely convenient and easy to use, plus there’s at least one at every single thrift store I’ve been to.  It saves so much time and when your rice comes out perfect, you feel like a master chef.

Chicken

From drab to fab…

Ingredients:

~2lb. boneless skinless chicken breast

1 tbsp minced ginger root

1 small jalapeno, minced

1-2 tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp chili powder

1c chicken broth

1/2c chunky peanut butter

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp cider vinegar

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Equipment:

A bowl for marinating chicken

A pot

How to Make:

Mince the jalapeno and ginger root and cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Combine these ingredients with salt, mix, and let marinate in the fridge for a while (I only waited half an hour, until I had finished making the potatoes.  Actually you don’t necessarily NEED to marinate, but I’d like to think it gives the chicken extra kick).

When ready, heat the vegetable oil in the pot, and dump the chicken in.  How do I know it’s fully cooked?  Well, I usually let the chicken turn totally white and then give it another 2-3 minutes.  You can always cut one in half to check, and conveniently you’ll have to eat it because throwing it back in the pot is unsanitary.

Add the chili powder and mix well, stirring for about a minute.  Then add the chicken broth, peanut butter, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar.  Mix well and bring everything to a boil.  You should see the peanut butter starting to melt a bit and form a homogeneously viscous sauce.  Let simmer 10-20 minutes.  While you wait, chop up the scallions!

Transfer to a plate and sprinkle scallions atop your dish.  Voila!

Potatoes

Whoops… don’t know why curry and milk causes a bubbling reaction.  Perhaps someone at the science fair I’m going to judge come March can tell me why….

Ingredients:

3-4 Yukon Gold potatoes (or other potatoes, but Yukon Golds are soooo good, plus Strack & Van Til has organic ones).

1/2- 3/4c milk

West Indian curry powder (or actually any kind of curry powder)

pinch of sea salt

Equipment:

A pot

How to Make:

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized cubes.  Mine were fairly old, but being the penny-pincher and food-saver that I am, I decided to just cut off the parts growing buds (which was a LOT of parts).  The good news is that the insides were still hard.

Boil the potatoes for approx. 15-20 minutes or until you can break one apart with your spatula.  In the meantime, combine your curry and milk.  I added about 2 tbsp of curry for how many potatoes I had and WAY too much salt.  Remember, you can always add salt LATER, kids.

When the potatoes are ready, drain and set them aside.  Heat the milk/curry mixture until it starts to simmer.  Toss the potatoes in and mix mix mix mix mix.  Leave in the pot for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  And then you’re done!

TIPS!

Totally optional, of course.  The problem with a lot of recipes is that it’s hard to buy the exact amount of ingredients you need to make your foods.  Often you end up buying more and then wasting it.  Here are just some ideas if you’re feeling environmentally-friendly and/or would like to save a few dollars (and with food, the dollars quickly add up if you’re not resourceful, even if cans and bags of things cost less than a dollar):

1. Freeze tomato paste: I buy them in cans, and end up using a paltry amount for one meal.  Instead of throwing the can away (because according to this girl I eavesdropped on on the bus, “they’re so cheap, I can just buy another one for 30 cents”), I’ve started freezing them in 1 tbsp aliquots, so now I always have a small stash.  They add a bit of flavor to rice dishes, and plus they’re good in stews, etc.

2. Freeze leftover chicken broth immediately: Again, more freezing.  I have a special, albeit infuriating to use, ice cube tray that I freeze it in.  Then I pour the little pellets into a Ziploc freezer bag.  Broth is a pain to buy in the store, because it always costs more than I think and I have to lug it home on the train.  When I get it, I try to buy the largest size, use up what I want for the moment, and save the rest for another recipe or for a lazy rice-cooker night (broth adds some nice flavor to rice).  And blame it on my lack of a social life, but the satisfaction I get from knowing I have ALL the ingredients to making something- broth being one of those things I used to never have on hand-  is terrifying.

3. Put leftover ginger in tea: For a while, I was drinking straight up ginger and lemon juice tea.  Ginger gets moldy easily, so it’s best to use as soon as possible.  Why not try adding a few slivers to your tea?  Or mincing it and adding to some soy sauce for dipping dumplings in?

4. Don’t toss your scallions!!: Scallions go great in everything.  I used all mine up, because I made some Chinese food later on (recipes to follow).  You can also cook them into fried eggs or omelets, add to instant noodles to make it seem “healthier,” add to pasta dishes like cabonara or with red sauce, etc etc.  List goes on!  Plus, they last quite a while in the fridge.  Just pluck out the dehydrated/slimy strands.  The others are still good!

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