Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Turmeric Chicken with Coconut Milk and Asparagus

Recipe: Turmeric Chicken with Coconut Milk and Asparagus

Okay, guess what the pervasive fragrance in our house is these days?

Last year we had a period of very warm weather at the end of March and the lilac bushes began to open their buds, but when it snowed and the winter winds returned during the first part of April they froze and fell off. Last year, this tree gave me just a few lilacs.

I think that Mother Nature is trying to make up this year!

Twenty-four years ago I planted this shrub. It was the first year in our “new old house”, and I just had to have a lilac bush. The scent of lilac has always reminded me of my Gram, who had a huge bush in her yard. I have photos of me, as a baby, sitting under it and also several photos of Gram standing beside it.

To me, smelling lilac is almost like having my wonderful, dreadfully-missed Gram back with me.

All of the spring-flowering trees and shrubs and bulbs have hit their peak now. The yard is awash in white, lavender, scarlet, burgundy, pink, and lime-gold. It’s breathtaking.

Alas the weeds are also flourishing, and although I’ve tried to keep up it really is impossible. Today I will go to Lowe’s and buy a 2-gallon jug of Roundup concentrate, which should make the job easier on the large planting areas in front of the house. I dread to find out how much it will cost. It has been 2 or 3 years since we bought the last jug and I’m sure that, along with everything else, the price has jumped.

In the last week, I have been harvesting about a half pound of asparagus from the garden every day. I never did like asparagus much, but shortly after we moved into the farm we were visiting my parents and my Dad was showing me his garden. He had planted an asparagus patch a few years earlier and as we went by he snapped off two spears and handed one to me. I really didn’t want it, but I always try to play The Good Daughter as often as I can, so I ate it. Then went back for another, and another. Wow, what a different taste from the store-bought asparagus! Straight from the garden, asparagus has a nice, sweet taste that is quite unlike its straight-from-the-produce-aisle cousin. The following year I planted my own asparagus patch and had to wait for a few years for the plants to become established but we eventually were harvesting a pound or so every day.

I amassed quite the collection of asparagus recipes!

As expected, the asparagus lost its vigorous growth several years ago and I replanted new roots. These matured and are probably 3 or 4 years from needing to be replaced again.

Yesterday’s harvest:

One of my favorite recipes for using the garden asparagus is for pasta primavera, which I don’t have a recipe for, just sautéing vegetables and adding a little lowfat half-and-half for creaminess, then serving over whole wheat fettuccine.

Dinner last night was a Thai-inspired Turmeric Chicken with Asparagus over Rice Noodles.

This is one of my favorite asparagus-containing dishes, although the mix of flavors hides the taste of the asparagus somewhat (so I use store-bought asparagus in the recipe quite often). I adore Thai food and this is the epitome of everything I enjoy in that cuisine—lemongrass, coconut, spices… all covering pieces of asparagus and chicken and soft rice noodles. I have to restrain myself from eating it too quickly!

I hesitate to post the photo because it’s a bit bland, although if I hadn’t forgotten to sprinkle the cilantro on it, it would have looked better. To be honest, I was proud of myself that I actually remembered to add the coconut extract at the end of the cooking time because I often leave out that step. So I forgot the cilantro. So goes my brain. This is delicious, much more so that the photograph depicts.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Turmeric Chicken with Coconut Milk and Asparagus

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

---------- ---------- ---------------------------------------

5 ounces rice noodles -- wide, similar to fettucine

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon canola oil

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- sliced into 1/4" wide pieces

1 large garlic clove -- minced

1 small onion -- sliced vertically

1 large lemongrass stalk -- finely mince the white part of bulb only (about 2 tablespoons)

8 ounces asparagus -- ends trimmed, cut into 2" long pieces (split the thick pieces)

1/4 cup light coconut milk

1/2 cup fat-free half and half

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

1/2 large lime -- cut in half; for serving

Prepare rice noodles according to directions. Drain, soak in cool water to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Mix the fish sauce through ground turmeric in a small cup. Set aside.

Heat wok over a high flame. Drizzle in the canola oil, tilt the wok to distribute the oil evenly; add the chicken. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the garlic, onion, and lemongrass. Stir fry for 2 minutes, or until chicken is opaque. Add the asparagus and stir for another minute. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir to get the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium; add coconut milk and fat-free half and half. Bring just to a simmer*, add the soy sauce mixture. Cover and turn heat down to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until asparagus is just tender. Sprinkle coconut extract over and stir in.

Serve in shallow bowls. Sprinkle with peanuts. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over all.

*simmer, simmer, simmer, simmer! :) As I have mentioned before, both the fat-free and the lowfat half-and-half will separate if they come to a boil so watch it carefully!

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Per serving: 601 Calories (kcal); 15g Total Fat (2g saturated); (22% calories from fat); 34g Protein; 82g Carbohydrate; 66mg Cholesterol; 679mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 4 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 23 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates


Josie said...

Vicci- I LOVE LOVE LOVE lilacs. I sometimes dream (irrationally since I want to be married outside in Ohio) of a late April/early May wedding surrounded by lilacs. My car was at my parents' house when I flew back from Connecticut this weekend, I got out of my mom's car - ready to get in mine and head home and I froze! I took a deep breath and knew that the lilacs were blooming. My mom and I picked me a HUGE bunch to take home. They perfumed my house and office. I totally understand your connection to the lilacs :)

Laura said...

Ha should have known Josie would also leave a comment at this post, since we both grew up surrounded by lilacs.

That recipe went into my to try file--looked wonderful.

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Josie, wouldn't it be nice to live somewhere with predictable weather (like that can happen anywhere, though!)
It's great that your Mom has lilacs and you are able to take away some of the "trimmings". :)

Laura, a lilac-fiend as well... ;) Hope you like the recipe. I have to make it again tomorrow because of the abundance of asparagus. What a problem to have!