Some of the greatest benefits of our former nomadic military life were being exposed to beautiful places, diverse friends, and exotic foods. Growing up in the South, I was raised on my mom’s farm grown veggies, and mildly seasoned food, occasionally spiced with my father’s Cajun inspired seafood meals. In our first overseas post in the Republic of Panama, I met a treasured friend whose specialty was Thai food. She introduced me to some amazing recipes, and Thai food quickly became a family favorite! Many of my go-to menu items are now Thai-influenced!
In addition to being quick and easy, these Thai recipes are healthy alternatives to heavier fare:
Thai Grilled Chicken
Although traditionally made with thighs and drumsticks, I substitute with chicken breasts. The grilled chicken also works great served over a plate of greens as a Thai Grilled Chicken Salad, perfect for summer nights. I have even substituted the chicken for shrimp with great results as well.
- ½ cup coconut milk (I prefer “light”)
- 3 garlic cloves, medium
- 2 tsp. coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 2 tbs. minced cilantro
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tbs. Asian fish Sauce (optional) I prefer to use soy sauce.
4 pounds (about 12 pieces) of chicken drumsticks and thighs or 3 chicken breasts
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- ½ cup rice or cider vinegar
After mixing marinade ingredients together, add chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate, covered for at least 1 hour.
Prepare the dipping sauce by bringing the vinegar to a low boil, add sugar, stir to dissolve. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, simmer for about 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in salt and cool to room temperature before serving.
Grill chicken on a well-oiled rack at medium heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown. A meat thermometer should register 165 degrees, approximately 15 – 20 minutes. Alternately, cook on broil at high for about 8 minutes.
Serve chicken with the dipping sauce or over a plate of fresh greens, drizzled with the sauce..
Thai Inspired Chicken Pizza
This recipe evolved from our Friday night pizza adventures. It’s not always easy getting the kids to waiver from the cheese and pepperoni routine, but this spicy treat, which I make on a thin pizza crust, was a hit.
12-inch pizza crust (you can use your favorite pizza dough or purchase a pre-baked crust)
- ½ pound of cooked chicken breast, diced or shredded
- 2 cup finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or Italian blend of mozzarella and provolone)
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ yellow bell pepper, sliced
- ¼ cup chopped peanuts
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- ½ cup shredded carrots (optional)
- ½ cup plum sauce
- 2 tbs. soy sauce
- 2 tsp. hot sauce
- 2 tsp. grill seasoning (I prefer to use Blackened seasoning)
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread sauce over pizza dough. Top with chicken, peppers, green onions,carrots and cheese. Bake approximately 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden. Top with peanuts and sprouts before serving.
Thai Vegetarian Noodles
This dish is “almost” vegetarian, but with a few substitutions, it can be made completely vegetarian. I add even more vegetables to the mix.
- Vegetable oil
- 7 ounces firm light tofu, cubed
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 1 tbs. Asian fish sauce (Optional)
- 1 ½ tsp. roasted red chile paste
- 1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ red bell pepper, sliced
- ½ large jalapeno, sliced
- 2 cups mixed vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower or green beans)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ lb. pad Thai rice noodles, cooked
- Lime wedges as garnish
In a nonstick skillet or wok, heat ¼ inch of oil. Add tofu over medium-high heat about 5 minutes or until crisp. Drain and set aside.
Whisk vegetable stock, chile paste, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce (optional) or soy sauce in a bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet or wok. Add vegetables, pepper, jalapeno, garlic, chile and stir fry about two minutes. Add noodles and stir fry until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add sauce and toss until liquid is absorbed over medium-high heat. Stir in tofu cubes and toss for 1 minute. Serve with lime wedge garnishes.