Today’s recipe is a collaboration between myself and my friend, Pim. Pim owns Lanna Thai Cafe, which is in the same complex as my Paleo Test Kitchen. She is very curious about what we do and wants to teach me her cuisine, while learning about mine. So, I talked to her a couple of weeks back and she agreed to work with me on this recipe in order to lay the groundwork for her Paleo/Zone understanding.
I started off by explaining to her that we want to balance proteins to carbohydrates and that, we are going to replace rice with fresh veggies. In doing this, we will inevitably end up with a lot of vegetables, which is exactly what transpired. She normally uses cheap cooking oil, sugar in most dishes, and other bottled Thai concoctions that have long ingredient lists of preservatives, cheap oil, sugar, etc… We left all of those out and opted for a simple route. We’d use white peppercorns, garlic and Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) to flavor our meal. She is from an area just south of Chiang Mai and I have been to Chiang Mai, so we decided to name it “Chiang Mai Chicken”.
We started by taking a look at the vegetables. I laid out what I thought to be in the neighborhood of 40-45 grams of carbohydrates. We used onions, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini and broccoli.
Pim had a bin full of marinated chicken, but it contained a chemical tenderizer, so I opted for a fresh chicken breast. She showed me how to slice it. She trims the excess fat and any connective tissue, then cuts it on an angle and a bias to yield thin morsels of white chicken.
When finished, we had about 7oz. of raw chicken that would cook down to somewhere between 5-6oz. Next up were the white peppercorns. She threw a handful in a mortar and pestle and bashed and broke them into pieces. Some remained whole, but for the most part, they were cracked and quartered.
We had what I’d call a healthy tablespoon of white pepper to deal with.
With the chicken, veggies and peppercorns ready to rock, we headed over to the wok. If you are doing this at home, you can simply use two pans. One over high heat to mimic the wok, and one stock pot full of boiling water to par cook the veggies before they are stir fried.
We started by adding the densest veggies to the boiling water. First were the carrots, then the broccoli and zucchini and finally the mushrooms.
We saved the onions and peppers to be added directly to the wok, no par cooking.
While the dense veggies steamed, we started some olive oil in the wok and then added the chicken.
Pim said it would be best to cook it 80% through before adding the garlic. This way the garlic would not burn. Follow?
Once the chicken was just right, we added the garlic.
By that time the veggies were done, so we pulled them from the water to drain.
Once the veggies were drained, the garlic was cooked to perfection, so we added the boiled veggies and the peppers and onions.
The wok came to life with color and Pim got busy stir frying! She is a genius with the wok tools, the heat, the water to keep things from drying out. Watching her is like watching Rich Froning with a barbell!
Next up were the white peppercorns. Here they are in the spoon headed into the wok.
Then, the Tamari. We figured we used about 3 tablespoons to season this amount of chicken and veggies.
With another quick stir, we stopped to taste the broth. It was just the way we liked it. I mean, sure, it could have used some sugar, but it didn’t need sugar. It was a nice balance of salty and a unique heat from the peppercorns. Add to that the essence of veggies and chicken, and you don’t need anything else. Simplicity was a big part of today’s lesson…
Pim cut the heat and it was time to plate. She had to pull one of her large plates out from the back because they normally don’t serve this quantity of food. I had just worked out, so I told her I was going to destroy the meal. I made good on my word shortly after pictures were finished…
In the end, we had a simple stir fry with ingredients you can find at your average grocery store. Sure, white peppercorns might be hard to come by, but black peppercorns, or even ground black pepper will yield a similar result.
Here is Pim holding the finished dish. Isn’t she sweet?
If you ever find yourself in Reno, stop by Lanna Thai Cafe and treat yourself to some authentic Thai cuisine. If you are looking for a solid post workout meal, ask for the Chiang Mai Chicken and Pim will whip it up in a jiffy!
It’s crazy to think of the nutrition that we can gain by replacing rice with vegetables. I’m like everyone else, I love me some rice! However, when optimum performance is your goal, veggies reign supreme. Go for the veggies next time and you’ll be stronger, faster and healthier for having done so.
“Keep It Paleo!” my friends.