Happy Monday! It's Secret Recipe Club reveal day. The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time. It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes. It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.
So true, as this month I was assigned a blog I was not familiar with. Culinary Adventures with Camilla is a very interesting food blog. Camilla is mom to two boys who love to get into the kitchen with her. Her blog is filled with pics of her boys cooking. That is so fun! I also love how international her blog is. She does a series of posts called "Cooking Around the World with Camilla", where she makes dishes from all kinds of different countries. She's got 42 of these so far! She is actually going through all the countries of the world, alphabetically. That's pretty impressive!
The recipe I chose to make from Camilla's blog is from one of these international posts. It's the dish she made about Bhutan, Bhutanese Chile Chicken. Now, I am no dummy (I do have a Master's degree, after all!), but geography has never been my strongest subject, and to be honest, while I had heard of it before, I had no idea where Bhutan actually was or anything about it. So I was very interested to learn that it is a "small, land-locked nation that is sandwiched between India and China in the foothills of the Himalayas." The dish Camilla chose to represent Bhutan sounded really good and was something I knew my family would eat, so it was the perfect choice.
Camilla says that the recipe is traditionally made with chunks of chicken, but she used drumsticks because that's what she had on hand. I had boneless chicken, so I went with the chunks. She also said that it's traditionally served with Bhutanese red rice, but I used brown jasmine instead. I made a few other adjustments to the recipe, based on ingredients I had on hand, so here is my adaptation.
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp flour
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
2 boneless chicken breasts, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced or grated
3 tbsp sesame seeds
¼ - ½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 servings cooked rice
Combine cornstarch, flour, paprika, ginger, and salt in a large resealable bag. Add the chicken to the bag, seal, and toss around, making sure all pieces are totally covered. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned on one side, then stir and cook again until pieces are browned on all sides and slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes (if using) and stir-fry until softened. Add soy sauce and tomato paste. Cook until a thick sauce forms. If it gets too thick, thin out with a couple of ounces of water. Taste for seasoning. If too tart, add a pinch or two of sugar. Return chicken to pan, cover in the sauce, and heat through. Serve over cooked rice.
Makes 4 servings.
Camilla calls this "Bhutanese Chile Chicken", but her recipe didn't include any chiles. I wonder if this was an oversight because she also calls it a "spicy stir fry". I didn't know what kind of chiles would be best, so I made it without, but I put red pepper flakes in the recipe above as an option if you want it a little bit spicy.
I used tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes because it's hard to get decent tomatoes this time of year. I thought it was pretty good that way, and my husband isn't a big fan of chunks of tomato in his food anyway.
This dish was a huge hit with my family. My husband said, "I could eat this all day long." That's a pretty good compliment! We loved how crispy and flavorful the chicken was before it was even tossed in the sauce (yes, we sneaked a bite or two to see how it tasted!). The flour and cornstarch coating not only gives it a great crispy texture, but it keeps the chicken so incredibly moist and tender on the inside.
Thanks so much for educating me about Bhutan, Camilla, and for introducing me to a great dish!