My family could easily eat Asian cuisine 5 out of 7 days every week. My very picky teen son invariably heaves a sigh of relief when the question, ‘What's for dinner?' is answered with ‘Thai ____' or ‘Chinese_____'. While I have my standby recipes (Pad Thai, Kung Pao Chicken, Fried Rice), sometimes I feel the need to mix it up a bit. Such is the case when this idea came to me a couple of days ago. Chicken Satay is nothing new to us, but I opted to eschew the skewers and instead top a bowl of chewy and nutty black rice with slices of tender, marinated chicken breasts, crisp vegetables and a thai-style cucumber salad. I then drizzled a peanut sauce turned vinaigrette over the whole conglomeration of yumminess, aka Chicken Satay Rice Bowl.
I came across this quote by David Thompson, author of Thai Food which is a more poetic interpretation of my take on Thai food. To me, the attraction of Thai food lies in it's complex combination of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and hot in the dish.
“Thai food ain’t about simplicity. It’s about the juggling of disparate elements to create a harmonious finish. Like a complex musical chord it’s got to have a smooth surface but it doesn’t matter what’s happening underneath. Simplicity isn’t the dictum here, at all. Some westerners think it’s a jumble of flavors, but to a Thai that’s important, it’s the complexity they delight in.”
I made the cucumber salad well before I made the vinaigrette, which turned out to be a fortunate happenstance because I would have made the vinaigrette spicier had the cucumber salad not been so spicy. So, use you judgement with your spices. If your cucumber salad is just a cool, refreshing addition, you might want to add a teaspoon (or more depending on the heat tolerance of the intended taste buds) of sriracha or other hot chili sauce/paste. In my case, the addition of 2 jalapenos (which being red also had more capsaicin than a green) really kicked the heat of my cucumber salad up so that I really wanted a tamer dressing to balance the heat out.
Plan this meal ahead so that you can give the chicken breasts ample time to marinate. I find the breasts quite tender and juicy from this marinade. While any rice would be completely fine, I like using black rice for the added dimension of both color and taste. If you haven't had black rice before, give it a whirl. It has a distinct nutty flavor we enjoy.
While we cook Thai food frequently at home, we've also made it point to find a Thai restaurant in most places we visit on our travels. If you're travelling soon, check out our list on this post. And pin this recipe if you might want to make it in the future
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