Kim suggested chicken with basil (meaning Gai Bai Kaprow) - classic Thai basil, chili pepper and chicken. That sounded good, but I wasn't sure how the basil in the fridge looked. In fact, it looked a bit tired. Peering around the fridge, however, I did see some surpluses.
Dill, leeks, fennel, bacon.
I can do something with those, I'm sure of that.
Anyhow, I decided to combine some of both of the ideas.
Now, in the summer, when we have basil growing all mad-cap around the yard, I have a pretty standard master recipe for Gai Bai Kaprow that I cook about once per week. You start by marinating the small dice chicken thighs in a mixture of rice wine vinegar and fish sauce - maybe toss some shallots in. Then you take a pot and heat the fat, flavor the fat with garlic. Then add the onions and whatever veggie to get them started, then the chicken to cook through. Then you add additional flavoring, bring to a boil and add the finishing ingredients, meaning basil.
Well, tonight's recipe follows a similar yet different cadence. I had fennel, which I knew would go fine with fish sauce. But I wasn't going to use soy sauce or kecap manis for other elements of the sauce. Instead, I went all Provencal on the dish. And instead of having the dish accompanied by rice, I decided to dice some hash browns to provide a nice starchy accompaniment.
Anyhow, it came out quite nice and rich and didn't take long at all.
- 1# chicken things, cut into 3/4" chunks
- 1 shot of fish sauce
- 1 shot of Noilly Prat (vermouth)
- 1 shot of white wine (picpoul de pinet or un-oaked chardonnay)
- 1 shot of champagne vinegar
- 1 shot of Pernod
- 1.5 oz of small dice bacon
- 2 Tb olive oil
- 1 Tb butter
- 1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2" dice
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 leeks, white parts sliced
- 2 medium carrots, large julienned
- 1/4 c. minced dill
- First off, start marinating the chicken. Put the chicken in a bowl and add 1/2 shot of the fish sauce, 1 shot of Noilly Prat, 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar. Mix well and let sit at room temperature.
- Next heat a pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the bacon. Continue to cook the bacon, stirring periodically until browned. Remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon, and reserve to be added later, when the dish is done.
- Next add the diced potatoes. Cook and stir the potatoes until browned and tasty. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve the potatoes in a bowl. Lightly salt and pepper the potatoes. They, too, will be added at the end.
- Next, add the fennel and leeks. Saute and stir until the leeks are soft. The fennel will still be fairly firm, but that's fine. They can stay in the pot.
- Next, add the chicken. It's important that the chicken has been cut small because we're not going to cook it that long. The other point about the small cut chicken is that it will have more surface area which means more of the chicken will come in contact with the sauce in which it is cooking. Nom nom. Anyhow, just add the chicken and its marinade and continue to cook. Stir and cook until the chicken is cooked on each side. We are not cooking this until it is browned and the marinade is gone. We are cooking the chicken until it is just about done.
- Next, it's time for the rest of the sauce. Pour in the other 1/2 shot of Fish Sauce, 1 shot of white wine, and the 1/2 shot of champagne vinegar [NOTE: not the Pernod yet]. Bring this liquid to a simmer and then add the julienned carrots. The carrots shouldn't cook much. They're just adding some color and a bit of crunchy texture to the mix. Cook the carrots for a 2-3 minutes.
- Add the dill and Pernod and cook for no more than 1 minute. Then turn off the heat.
- Finally (off-heat), add the reserved potatoes and bacon. Mix well and serve.