Indian Coconut Green Beans

My wife and I have been going to a local Indian restaurant in our area called Indian Garden.  I am no expert when it comes to authentic Indian food, but my taste buds are pretty good and I have eaten enough of that cuisine to know the good from the bad, and this place is the good. There are couple of things that differentiate an ethnic restaurant for me when I first arrive. My first sell is it busy and second are those sitting down to eat of the same ethnicity as the restaurant. Win, win on Indian Garden, and as a matter of fact we are often times the only ‘gringos’ in that joint. With all of that being said, we have only dined in for their lunch buffet and there are plenty of reasons why. It’s very affordable, and they offer a wide array of great Indian food, so much as my wife will say ‘we have to learn to make that’. One of our visits my wife tried their coconut soup and loved it so much that I had to learn to make it for her. It’s still one of her favorites to this day. On our most recent visit they had a green bean dish, one that was the first for us, that was just out of this world, and it was up to me to figure this one out.

Indian Coconut Green Beans Recipe
Indian Coconut Green Beans Recipe

This was perfect timing as we needed to harvest a bunch of green beans from our garden, and so it was time to use up some leftover coconut from making pies this summer and put it all to a good use.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of fresh green beans, trimmed, and cut into about 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 5 Indian curry leaves
  • generous pinch of salt, to taste

Super simple stuff here but flavors that will have you coming back for more, trust me I know from that last visit to the buffet. I had no guilt getting a second serving of these beans.

Start by getting a large skillet on the stove, over medium heat. Add in the oil and let that come to temperature, about a minute or so.

Next add in the green beans, and give them a nice stir in the oil. Continue to cook the beans on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then toss in the Indian curry leaves. Give your wrist a workout and toss those in the skillet, and then continue to stir for a couple of minutes.

Indian Coconut Green Bean Ingredients
Indian Coconut Green Bean Ingredients

Now add in the coconut flakes, and continue to toss and stir.

Cook the beans and the coconut until the coconut flakes start to turn a golden color and the beans are just starting to get tender.

Slide these into a serving bowl and get ready to dig in.

These coconut green beans are so good you can just eat them as a main dish if you desire. Crunchy beans with a sweetness from the coconut and a slight pungent taste from those curry leaves. It was a win, win, just like the buffet at Indian Garden. If you are looking for a great side dish, and looking to harvest some beans, give this one a try. As a side note, you can get curry leaves from your local Indian market (I shop at Best Food Store in Milwaukee, and the curry leaves can get sealed up and frozen as well. Hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy

As you probably are already aware, I have a few different ethnic cuisines that are my all-time favorites. Mexican, Thai, Indian, and well pretty much anything Asian. That includes Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Filipino. With hope, I pray that my kids who I cook for everyday grown up to realize that when they grow older. I’m not that guy who is serving up the same jive every week, rather I’m the dude who is serving them dishes, family style, from all over the world. I typically always do a take on this particular recipe as my entire family totally loves it, however it goes so fast that you wish you would have quadrupled the recipe or simply told the kids to slow down a bit. It’s that good. It’s Vietnamese caramel chicken, but instead of serving with a side of rice and some thinly sliced cucumbers, I made this into a po boy. I mean it’s the best of both worlds, right?

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the chicken and marinade:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of water

Ingredients for the sandwich:

  • Your favorite baguette
  • mayonnaise, optional
  • cherry or roma tomatoes, optional
  • head lettuce, thinly chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional

Sounds like a lot, but it’s really not as the ingredients for the marinade and sauce are essentially the same.

Start by combining all of your chicken and marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl or sealable plastic bag, and let this marinade for a at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Take the chicken out and have it come close to room temperature before you are ready to cook.

During this time, mix the sauce ingredients, and if you want, go ahead and prepare your sandwich ingredients. NOTE: The chicken cooks quickly, very quickly.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Get a large skillet out and heat it to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two then add in the chicken. Don’t mess with the chicken. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes, then start stirring it around. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, then turn on your kitchen vent and add in the sauce. Stir, coating the chicken and cook quickly. The sauce will thicken and get nice and sticky. Once that happens, remove the skillet from the heat.

Whatever you do, don’t start eating the chicken yet. It’s so darn addictive that you may end up not having enough to make a sandwich!

Now it’s time to make the sandwich. Lather both sides of your sandwich with mayonnaise. to the bottom, add the shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Top with a bunch of the caramelized chicken, then top with cilantro and jalapenos. Almost a banh mi style without the pickled elements. Fold, push down on the sandwich, and open wide.

This sandwich is awesome. Sticky chicken packed with great Asian flavors really knocks this one out of the park. Hope you enjoy!

Thai Peanut Butter Toast

I have no idea why I don’t eat peanut butter more often because every time I do I totally love it. My kids probably eat peanut butter once a day. I don’t know if that is due to convenience or the fact that they love it as well. So one early afternoon I decided I wanted to have lunch. I wanted something Thai, but nothing that would take too long, plus my appetite was not all that fierce due to the cancer treatment I have been going through. Looking through the pantry, I noticed some really good and hearty bread that I had bought for my wife, that delicious creamy peanut butter, some Thai infused honey, and then some Thai bird chilies. I knew that I would get the best of everything by creating what I call Thai Peanut Butter Toast. Whoa is this every good.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

I could have stopped at just peanut butter toast with a drizzle of that honey but I wanted to go further, and boy was I glad I did.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of your favorite bread, toasted
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Thai infused honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 whole Thai bird chilies, chopped (seeds removed is optional)
  • 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed

It doesn’t get any easier to make. Take your peanut butter and lather it onto your slice of toast. Sprinkle on the peanuts, Thai chilies, cilantro, and honey, and squeeze the lime juice over the top.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Ingredients

Plate and serve.

The result is everything I love about warm toast and creamy peanut butter. You know… when it drips down your hand? Then you get these pops of awesome spice from the chilies, freshness from the lime and cilantro, and that texture from the roasted peanuts.

Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe
Thai Peanut Butter Toast Recipe

This is a real winner, especially if you like a bit of spice. Feel free to reduce the chilies to one if you desire, or remove the seeds from them, but the balance of flavor is a tough one to compete with on this awesome snack.

Larb Stuffed Loaded Baked Potato

I’m always looking for something to do with my leftovers and to be honest I am a bit surprised I had any leftovers from a recent Thai/Lao larb fest. I will also be honest and state that larb is probably one of my top 10 things to eat. There’s something about the medley of flavors and the interaction when grabbing a bit of sticky rice and nubbing it down into the herbaceous larb. I’ve done a bunch of different things outside of the standard larb recipe, of which includes leftovers. Everything  larb fried rice, larb bao, and larb quesadillas to name a few. This one on the other hand goes right up there with an excellent use of leftovers, still has that great heat (depending on how you make the larb), and is filling to boot. This one is larb stuffed loaded baked potatoes. I can probably chalk this one up with all of the potato skins I’ve made in the past as well.

Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe
Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of leftover larb (feel free to use beef, pork, or chicken)
  • 1 baking potato
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

That’s it. Granted you may thinking making larb takes a bunch of time, but seriously, it takes about 5 minutes, or as long to cook your protein

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees, or use your microwave if you want to roll that way, and poke some holes into the potato with a fork.

Take some olive oil and lightly coat the exterior of the potato, and season with a bit of salt. I love a crusty, salty potato, and yes, I eat the whole thing.

Bake or microwave the potato until it is knife tender in the middle. This takes about 8-10 minutes in the microwave, or about 45-60 minutes in the oven.

Once the potato is fully cooked, remove it from the oven, take a butter knife and make a long slit through the top, then carefully using your fingers give it a pinch to make a nice open pocket.

Warm your leftover larb in a skillet, or microwave, then generously load the larb into the baked potato. You can see the extra Thai chilies I added (nice boost for vitamin C), and how loaded it is. I also wanted some extra heat. Did I mention that I find myself eating a Thai chili a day? For whatever it’s worth, it hasn’t kept the doctor away, but I do love them.

If you are looking for a great and interesting take on a loaded baked potato, give this one a shot, but by all means, if you have not had Thai/Lao larb you must make it. It’s addicting. Hope you enjoy!