Lan of Angry Asian Creations and I started our respective blogs the same year, and we’ve become Twitter and blogging buddies ever since. Lan is a very nice person who is also very creative in cooking and craft; her blog is an evidence of that. Angry Asian Creations is a happy place where you’d want to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon browsing and looking for ideas on what to create during the week.
I’ve asked Lan to be the fourth person to continue our series of dishes created around the herbs that are used so heavily in Thai cuisine in general and Tom Yam in particular, i.e. kaffir lime, lemongrass, and galangal. So far we have seen Tom Yam-flavored French macarons, Tom Yam-flavored baked alaska, and mango with smooth coconut fromage blanc cream thoroughly infused with Tom Yam herbs. Today, we have this scrumptious roasted chicken added to the growing list.
A guest post by Angry Asian Creations
The thing about cooking for me now is that there’s a familiarity and ease that settles in me. I had a simple bowl of white rice doused with soy sauce and Sriracha the other day, which brought back my college dorm days, when I could barely heat anything up in the microwave without causing the smoke alarm to go off. That girl doesn’t exist anymore. I will tackle a recipe (or crochet pattern) without batting an eye now. And not only that, I even dabble in adapting a recipe to my needs, and available ingredients now. AND! I usually don’t measure, unless I’m baking & even then, I like to fudge a little; that is how at ease I am with cooking now.
This particular roasted chicken was borne from many experiences roasting chickens, from lackluster results to finally throwing caution to the wind and getting it right. Also, it’s been about a year in the making. Last year Leela asked me if I’d be interested in guest posting on her fabulous blog, using the specific ingredients: galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. These three together, when used properly, create a distinct taste that conjures up memories of the foods I ate when I lived in Bangkok as a teenager.
The reason why this took me so long to honor was because I could not get my hands on fresh kaffir leaves. Galangal? Sure, it’s actually quite abundant. Lemongrass? Even more prevalent in the Asian markets I frequent. Wandering Chopsticks sent me a bag full of these citrus smelling leaves a few months ago, but I messed up the panna cotta I wanted to create. On a recent trip to California tho, I requested it and on my last day there, a simple inquiry on where to BUY it, my youngest Auntie took me on a journey of Kaffir Lime Leaf Thievery.
This how it all went down: Auntie called Gma, who after berating for me not asking for it sooner, called a friend who called another friend to say that yes, YET another friend had a kaffir lime tree in her background, sure go on over & request a few leaves. Off we go, Auntie & I, with her crazy California driving, me in the passenger seat trying not to vomit as childhood memories of car sickness grips me.
When we finally locate the house, because Auntie had only ever been once before many years ago, NO ONE IS HOME, but the gate is open. Auntie tells me it’s easy to just snip the leaves, just act like we own the house. OMG. She is basically telling me that with the right attitude, it’s easy to stroll into someone’s backyard and STEAL THEIR KAFFIR LEAVES. She tells me it’s the Vietnamese way, they’re friends (technically, friends of friends of friends of Gma’s, but who am I to correct her? An accomplice apparently …) therefore it’s okay to grab some, or in our case, half a shopping bag’s worth.
So, in my freezer now is half a bag of kaffir lime leaves to use to my heart’s desire. As it turns out, it was much easier to, ahem, steal these leaves than it was to come up with a recipe. I relied heavily on a recent inspiration & swapping out a few key ingredients, and then completely forgetting the other stuff. It happens often to me, but thankfully things turned out well, and in the end, it was an easy peasy weekend meal.
One 3.5lb chicken, use organic if at all possible
4 stalks of lemongrass, divided and cleaned of outer skin
Handful kaffir lime leaves, divided
Galangal, divided (I don’t recall how much I used, but I’d say about the size of my palm, which doesn’t help because you don’t know the size of my hand. Sorry.)
One stick of butter, softened
Few onions, red and/or white, quartered