which makes me think of something. i think it's very cool that across america, food favorites are so very different. coming from upstate new york, that area was very heavily saturated with Italian food, bakeries, eateries, culture, people, etc. and i, in my naievety, just assumed that it was like that everywhere. until i left. and i saw for myself that things are in fact quiet different as you roam around the country. in my neck of the woods now, the area is very much influenced by the asian culture. this was so different for me. i grew up eating mostly italian everything. where i am from, the closest there was to asian was plain ol' chinese take-out. they have broadened their horizons a bit in the past dozen years since i left; there is an authentic indian eatery in the downtown area.
aaaaaaanyway, i was not so open to trying this foreign food at first. there was this great local place eric would take me when i first moved here. i would get boring, safe sweet & sour chicken, but he would get crap like papaya salad, chicken pad thai, etc. and i was intrigued after a little while. the moment i decided to try papaya salad was the turning point. it was AMAZING. and really, the rest is history!
thai coconut chicken & rice soup
1 c jasmine rice
1 large root of ginger (about the size of a small banana)
1 whole organic red bell pepper
1 red onion
3 large garlic cloves
4 tb olive oil
2 antibiotic-free chicken breasts
30 oz organic chicken broth
8 c water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
2 cans light coconut milk
1 1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk (such as silk brand)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch of thai basil
2 stalks lemongrass
salt & pepper
prepare jasmine rice according to package directions.
peel the ginger, mince; set aside. dice red pepper & red onion; set aside.
in a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. mince/crush garlic directly into pot. once fragrant, add the ginger, red pepper, and red onion.
meanwhile, halve the chicken breasts lengthwise and slice into very thin strips. add to the pot.
after a couple minutes, add the chicken broth, water, and chicken bouillon cubes.
cut the lemongrass stalks into 2-3 inch pieces. add to the pot along with the bunch of thai basil.
turn the heat up to high & bring to a boil. turn the heat down to medium-low and add the coconut milk. add the prepared rice to the pot. add salt & pepper to taste.
slice scallions and roughly chop the cilantro. add as garnish to your liking, and you're done!
as a dessert you must have fresh pineapple. trust me here, it just completes the whole experience!
there is no great substitute for thai basil. it is not the same as regular basil. if there is a local Asian marketplace in your town, that is the best bet as far as finding thai basil. they will also definitely have lemongrass there, too. although the local grocery store where i grew up did carry lemongrass, i don't know if that is normal. it also might have been a seasonal produce item. if anything, call around before you go looking; it could save you a lot of time and headache. after all, you don't want anything to deter you from making this!