One of my favorite things is to open up the fridge, survey its contents, and wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes, it ends in disaster. Other times, it turns into a surprisingly delicious meal.
We were craving something hearty, warm, and comforting one cold spring evening, and I decided to use chicken thighs instead of breasts for added flavor. The addition of micro greens was a much-needed bit of sharpness to balance out the sweet, savory, and creamy notes in this dish.
Enough of my babbling – let’s get to cooking!
BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS AND COCONUT RICE
For the chicken:
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. sriracha (or other hot sauce of your choice)
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh spinach
2 tbsp. sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Micro greens for garnish
For the rice:
2 cups white medium grain rice (I prefer Calrose)
1 cup water
1 1/14 cups coconut juice with pieces of coconut included (not coconut water, we need some flavor here!)
1. Marinate the chicken in vegetable oil, soy sauce, orange juice, and sriracha. Let stand overnight or at least one hour, refrigerated.
2. Rinse rice in running water until water runs clear. I usually fill my rice pot with just enough water to cover the rice, swirl it around, then pour it out, using my hand as a guard against rice escaping. I do that five times, which is generally enough to get most of the starch rinsed off the grains. Add water and coconut juice, shaking as much of the coconut meat into the rice as possible. Cook in rice cooker.
3. While rice is cooking, take this time to chop your aromatics and set chicken on counter to take the chill off. I’ve found that using chicken that’s been out of the fridge for a few minutes lends to better browning and more even cooking throughout.
4. Once that’s done, in a wide saucepan over medium high heat, brown chicken in a few tablespoons of the marinade, adding vegetable oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Make sure chicken is fully brown on one side, with some color on the other, then add in onion and garlic. Stir occasionally for three minutes.
5. Lower heat to medium, add spinach and sesame oil, then cover for five minutes. I add sesame oil at this stage because I like the flavor of it, and that flavor tends to turn a tad harsh if cooked at high heat or for a long time. Check, and if spinach is wilted to your preference and chicken is cooked through, turn off heat and let sit until rice is done.
6. Scoop rice into bowl, top with a chicken thigh and veggies, season to taste, and garnish with fresh micro greens.
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are!
Side note: This dinner goes really well with super cold Asahi, but also with a slightly sweet ginger beer (for my non-drinking pals).