What happens when a corn-fed boy from the Midwest meets a rice-raised girl from the Far East? The boy falls in love with the girl and her rice, and they live happily ever after.
The best thing about marrying someone who didn't grow up eating rice at every meal is that it makes you see and taste it with a new perspective. My family always ate Thai jasmine or Milagrosa and to this day, my parents will accept nothing else. When I once made Basmati for my mother, she looked as if I'd stabbed her in the heart. But my husband isn't tethered to a particular variety - it's all new and wonderful to him. So he's inspired me to reach out to the thousands of varieties of rice in the world today. I'm only up to six - Thai jasmine, white Basmati, short-sticky, long-sticky, 'forbidden' black, and wild rice (technically a grass seed) - but it's a start.
I hope to make "What's On Rice" a regular part of my blog, featuring recipes that are best served with this marvelous grain. In honor of my Filipina background, here's my first:
Manok sa Gata at Sili (Chicken in Spicy Coconut Sauce)
Also known as Ginataang Manok, this recipe is adapted from Signature Dishes of the Philippines by Sony Robles-Florendo.
Recommended rice: Thai jasmine
3-4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips or cubes
1 Tbsp crushed ginger
1 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, julienned
1 small onion, sliced very thin
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp fish sauce (patis)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 each red and green bell peppers, sliced into strips
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped or 1/2 tsp dried
Coarse ground salt
1. Wash and pat dry chicken thighs; rub with crushed garlic, crushed ginger and patis. Let stand in refrigerator for about an hour.
2. Heat 1-2 Tbsp of canola oil in a wok or large sauté pan at medium-high heat. Sauté onions and julienned ginger until soft and fragrant. Do not let it get too browned.
3. Add chicken and cook on med-high to high heat until thoroughly done and meat is nicely browned. Add lemongrass and crushed red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute.
4. Add coconut milk and bell peppers and gently simmer, covered, on low-med heat for about 10 minutes. If you prefer a thicker consistency, simmer uncovered to reduce coconut milk.
5. Salt to taste and serve over steamed rice.