Cross-cultural food marriages add spice — literally — to life, and this fusion of Mexican food with Thai stir fry is a fun and exciting taste sensation. Anytime you get away from the old pot roast/mashed potatoes/sad boiled vegetables fare you’re poised to win, and when you incorporate your meat, vegetables, and starch together, it’s amazing how much good food you can slip down the gullet of even the pickiest eater.
(By the way, if you’ve got a picky eater, check and see if you’re doing one of these two things:
1) Serving all your food compartmentalized, as in meat/potatoes/vegetables — this just encourages people to pick out what they like and avoid what they don’t, and they get really, really freaked out when the juice from the corn leaks onto the potatoes.
2) Eating prepared foods — boxed, bagged, frozen, reconstituted, from the drive-in — commercial food is laden with preservatives and additives that subtly change the flavor from real to artificial, and if you eat too much of this, you get accustomed to salty and sweet.
The more real food you eat, prepared with fresh ingredients that are, preferably seasonal, the more experimental you get about what you put in your mouth. Eating becomes an adventure, not an obligation, or an addiction.)
Mexi-Thai Chicken Fusion Delusion:Serves 2 full meals; 3-4 lighter servings
Corn Tortillas — 4 (check out my recipe for Homemade Corn Tortillas; these work especially well in this dish since they have a very strong, very pronounced corn flavor)
Coconut oil — 3 Tablespoons, divided
2 Chicken Thighs or Breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces and coated in flour (I used Kamut, an ancient grain)
2 tsp. Curry paste (I used Mai Ploy brand yellow curry paste because that’s what I had on hand; green and red curry paste would work as well, but I strongly recommend the Mai Ploy brand; I found mine in an Asian grocery store).
2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
Water — 4 Tablespoons, divided
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 zucchini, diced or chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh Thai basil, finely minced (you can use regular basil if you don’t have Thai basil, and you can dispense with the basil completely if you don’t have it. If you’ve never tried growing herbs in a small pot, experiment; during the warm weather you can keep them outside; when it gets cold, you bring them inside, and you just keep pinching off the flowers — and using them — so that the plant doesn’t bolt).
1 small tomato, chopped
salt to taste
Melt two tablespoons coconut oil in a frying pan until hot. Add the floured chicken cubes and stir around over medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, about five minutes. Remove chicken to a small plate and keep warm.
Add a third tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan, heat until hot, and add the yellow curry paste. Stir this for 30 seconds, quickly to keep from burning, and then add shallots, garlic, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook and stir for two minutes at medium high.
Add celery and cook for another two minutes.
Add zucchini and 2 more tablespoons water; cook and stir for another two minutes until zucchini is soft but not squishy.
Sprinkle in chopped basil and stir for another 30 seconds. Pull pan off heat.
Place two tortillas on each plate. Divide vegetable mix evenly ever the four tortillas; top with chicken and tomatoes.
Add salt as you eat — there’s a little salt in the tortillas, and, intriguingly, salt in the curry powder, so it’s easy to oversalt this dish unless you consciously decide to use less during cooking, and add more later.
If you’re accustomed to eating prepared or boxed food, this dish won’t taste salty enough; but as you adjust your diet and your palate to fresh ingredients, seasonally prepared, you’ll find that you use significantly less salt, and your tolerance for it decreases. You start to taste the food.
It’s my mantra: learn to cook. There are three good reasons to do this:
1) You create, as opposed to consume. We do far too little of the former and far to much of the latter. Creating gives us a sense of confidence and independence.
2) You eat better. Fresh food, prepared right here and now, is better than the stuff you get out of the box or bag. Flip a box of something, anything, over sometime and see all the unpronounceable additives and artificial ingredients that you are pumping into your body.
3) You save money. Really. A box of Mac-Attack may seem cheap, and in some ways it is, but the better you get at cooking, the more you save money by doing it. And speaking of saving money, I recommend my book, Live Happily on Less, as an easy read that will get you on the path to using your personal resources, your personal way, to save you and your household money. Save even more by buying the digital version.