Monday, October 7, 2013

Swimming Rama, Chicken in Thai Peanut Sauce

The name of this dish is somewhat misleading, the chicken isn't exactly swimming, but it is saucy! This used to be one of my favorite Thai dishes, but I stopped ordering it after I realized how high it was in calories. I've worked on an easy to make home version with lower calories, keeping the rich taste of the dish, and believe this version is successful. The richness is due to peanut butter and coconut milk. Substituting chicken stock and white wine for some of the coconut milk, plus using less peanut butter per serving and eliminating the oil reduce the calorie count significantly. I've also increased the amount and variety of vegetables. Most recipes for this dish sprinkle just a few hot pepper pieces on top to spice up the dish. I've spiced this up with readily available dry spices mixed into the sauce, then added a full cup of mild peppers along with extra onions. Do enjoy, occasionally, without guilt, or at least less guilt!


1 small container baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)

1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine (or use more chicken stock)
1 chicken breast or 2 chicken thighs, sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
C1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Anaheim chili, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1/3 cup peanut butter, either smooth or chunky
1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 oz (2/3 cup) light coconut milk
juice of 1/2 lime
up to 1/2 tsp sea salt
sesame seeds, green onions, chopped peanuts, or cilantro for topping

Directions: Heat a pot of water over high heat, then add a steamer on top. Add spinach to the steamer, cover. Steam spinach for 1 minute, drain, and set aside. Combine stock and wine in a non stick skillet, then add chicken pieces and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until chicken loses it's pink color. Remove chicken pieces from the stock and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper, and chili pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion turns translucent. Stir in the peanut butter, soy sauce, spices, and coconut milk. Stir all to combine and cook just until heated through. It should be thick enough to coat a spoon, but not so thick that it doesn't stir. Add more chicken stock if the sauce is too thick. Stir in the lime juice. Return the chicken to the peanut sauce. Taste, adding salt if needed. To serve, place 1/2 of the cooked spinach on a plate, then top with 1/2 of the chicken in peanut sauce. Top with the garnish of your choice. I like to serve this with a small side of brown rice.

Serves 2, easily doubled

Stealthy Cooking Tip: Taste before you add the salt. If you use salt free peanut butter, you might need to add salt. However, once you become accustomed to lower salt dishes, you may find that you won't need to add salt. Fresh spinach and vegetables, even frozen ones, have loads of flavor that rival their more highly salted cousins in taste.

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