coconut chicken with spicy cucumber ribbons

belinda jeffery's recipes

My recipes are easy. They’re for the food I like to eat. Simple, fresh, full of flavour and just a bit different. You certainly don't need any great cooking skills for them, you just need to like food and like eating – just like me. The rest is simple.

coconut chicken with spicy cucumber ribbons

I nearly always serve this with a bowl of jasmine rice and something cucumber-y, as their cool freshness is a lovely balance for the spicy chicken. The cucumber ribbons look really pretty, but if time isn’t on your side, just seed and slice the cucumbers then mix them with a little plain yogurt, fresh mint and salt, and serve this instead.

2 x 270ml cans coconut cream
3 heaped tablespoons of your favourite #curry paste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh ginger
Inner hearts of 3 stalks of lemongrass, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped coriander
8 chicken chops (partly boned leg and thigh portions)
a few lacy coriander leaves, to garnish
steamed jasmine rice, to serve

Salad
800g Lebanese or other small cucumbers, washed and dried
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons very finely shredded ginger
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon rice (or white wine) vinegar
1 teaspoon caster sugar
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
3 teaspoons sesame oil
Up to 1 tablespoon lime juice
Sea salt, to taste

# I use Patak’s terrific Tikka Masala curry paste for this)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the coconut cream, curry paste, ginger, lemongrass and coriander.

Line a lidded container big enough to hold the chicken with a large sturdy plastic bag. Sit the chicken pieces in the bag and scoop in the marinade. Tie a knot in the top of the bag, then squish it about in your hands so that the chicken is thoroughly coated in the marinade. (Make sure you use a good strong bag for this or, as I’ve found to my cost, the bag could tear as you squish the chicken, making rather a horrible mess!) Put the bag back into the container and cover it tightly with the lid. Now just pop the lot into the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, or better still, overnight. If you remember, give the chicken pieces another squish from time to time.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat your oven to 190C. Line a shallow oven tray with baking paper and sit the chicken pieces on it, skin-side up. Squeeze any leftover marinade in the bag over the chicken. Slip the tray into the oven and cook the chicken for about 40 minutes, until it is deep golden-brown on top.

While the chicken is cooking, make the cucumber ribbons. To do this, run a vegetable peeler, repeatedly down the length of a cucumber to form long narrow ribbons, stopping when you get to the seeds. Rotate the cucumber and do the same again. Repeat with the remaining cucumbers, then put the ribbons into a large bowl, cover them with plastic film and chill them. (I discard the seedy cores and the first ribbons on each side as they are all skin and a bit chewy.)

When the chicken is nearly done, combine the olive oil, ginger, garlic, vinegar, caster sugar, chilli and sesame oil in a small saucepan. Sit the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to the boil. As soon as it boils, remove it from the heat and stir in a little of the lime juice. Taste it and add salt and more lime juice, if necessary. Pour this over the cucumbers and thoroughly mix it in.

When the chicken is ready, sit one or two pieces on each plate and scoop a little cucumber salad alongside. Finish off with a sprinkling of coriander leaves, and if by chance you have them, coriander flowers. This is delicious with a bowl of steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4 hearty eaters or 6 lighter ones.

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