Thai For Beginners

It's true.  I have never made Thai food before.  Ever.  

This dish is my take on the ever popular Chicken Satay that is found in virtually every Thai food restaurant.  Usually paired with cucumbers that are spiked with sweet rice vinegar, I wanted to make sure that was represented.  To round it all out, I served a cooling cilantro-lime rice, which paired really well with all of the other elements of this dish as well as further utilizing some basic Thai staples.  Because I had never made a spicy peanut sauce before, I ran a Google search to get some inspiration and to see what some typical components of this sauce are.  I found quite the array of ingredients ranging from coconut milk to the addition of basic red pepper flakes.  Then I stumbled upon a version that called for red curry paste and I couldn't help but get excited about adding this component to the sauce, mainly because I had never used it and was curious what type of flavor it would provide.   
So there I was, in my Small Boston Kitchen, looking at a jar of peanut butter and a small, newly purchased little jar of red curry paste, wondering what to do next..and that's when the fun started.  I find that when creating a new recipe, I like to add things very slowly and taste it as I go along and this process continues until I am fully satisfied.  When it was all said and done, I was really happy with the way the sauce came out and I've already started thinking of other ways to utilize this sauce.  Wraps for an interesting work lunch?  A noodley stir fry?  There are so many options!  And now that I made my first Thai dish, I feel ready to take on some more creations of this cuisine.  Don't be surprised if you see some Tom Yum soup or Drunken Noodles coming to a blog near you in the not too distant future...  

One special note about the red curry paste, if you are one of those that walks around saying, "I don't like curry so this isn't for me", do me a favor and try it.  I found this paste in the ethnic section of my Stop and Shop and I'm not usually a huge fan of curry but this stuff rocks.  It has an awesome spicy heat to it that makes the sauce so unique and delicious.
Spicy Peanut Chicken with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Carrot-Cucumber Slaw

For the Chicken and Sauce
- Chicken Tenders (as many as you're hungry for!)
- Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the chicken
- Salt and Pepper
- About 1/4 cup Peanut Butter (I used an all Natural kind and it worked really well but whatever you have on hand will work just fine)
- About 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar 
- About 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- About 1 tbs Red Curry Paste (more or less depending on how hot you want it!)

Cilantro-Lime Rice
- About 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
- A large handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 3-4 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
- The juice from half a lime

Ginger Carrot and Cucumber Slaw
- 1/2 English cucumber
- 3 carrots
- About 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- Enough Rice Vinegar to coat the carrot cucumber mixture

Wash the chicken tenders thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel.  Lightly coat them in extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over them.  Arrange the tenders on a baking sheet and bake them at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the juices run clear.  Set aside.  

To make the peanut sauce, combine the peanut butter, rice vinegar, ginger and curry paste in a bowl.  Mix completely and tweak the ingredients until you reach your desired taste and consistency.  

For the rice, combine the green onions, cilantro and lime juice to the cooked rice.  For best results, don't combine the rice with the herbs until it has cooled slightly.  Otherwise, you will wilt the herbs and they won't be as vibrant and freshly flavorful.

To make the slaw, use a box grater )or food processor) to grate the carrots and cucumbers.  Add the ginger and coat the vegetable mixture.  

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