A fabulous Thai-inspired dinner with melt in your mouth tender chicken – it’s super easy and quick!
If you've surmised that I love to cook, you're definitely right. In fact, most of the time, being in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do. But there's something you might be surprised about...
There are many days when late afternoon rolls around and I'm just not in the mood to fuss with dinner. I may have been busy in the kitchen all day working on projects for the blog, but when Scott asks, "What's for dinner?", I've been told I often look at him with a blank (deer-in-the-headlights) stare.
That's when he says, "Let's go out for dinner." or "What if we get take-out?", and there are days when I can't resist. We have lots of wonderful restaurants within a close radius of our home, so it's easy for us to take this route. But going out, and even ordering out, is expensive and dinners out often aren't super healthy, so I try not to succumb too often.
That's when a meal like this 30 Minute Sticky Thai Chicken is the perfect prescription. I love having a few recipes like this in my arsenal that I can put together in no time flat. I keep my freezer stocked with frozen chicken breasts, the kind that are individually wrapped. I can pull a few out, stick them in a bowl of water and within 20 minutes, they're thawed and ready to go.
I also love to have a bag of mini bell peppers in my crisper drawer. They're so pretty, come in a variety of hues and are delicious in salads, sandwiches, soups and chilis as well as in meals like this. The rest of the ingredients for this 30 Minute Sticky Thai Chicken are staples you can keep in the pantry or refrigerator.
The sauce is comprised of sweet chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass and fresh lime juice. It's complex; sweet, salty and spicy all combined. It's also super simple, especially if you keep tubes of ginger and lemongrass paste in the freezer (by the way, this is not a sponsored post, I just love this stuff). Most people aren't aware of the fact that they can be stored in the freezer. I just take them out about 10 minutes before I want to use them. They thaw enough that I can easily remove the amount I need. These tubes are available at most decent-sized grocery stores, as well as at the large box grocers. If I have plenty of time, I purchase fresh ginger and lemongrass, and do the chopping myself, but these little tubes taste really fresh and are great for quick and easy meals.
The only thing I don't usually have on hand for this recipe are the pea pods, but, if I'm thinking ahead just a bit, they're easy enough to pick up at the market. Either sugar snap peas or snow peas work well.
I use an old Chinese tenderizing trick on the chicken as boneless, skinless chicken breasts tend to dry out and turn a bit rubbery when cooked in dishes like this. The technique's called velvetizing and is common in Asian cuisine. Chicken breasts are sliced thin and marinated in a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, rice vinegar and a touch of oil. It only takes 20 minutes, but the result is magical. In this dish, after marinating, the chicken is slipped into to the hot bubbling sauce. Then, just cover the pan, turn off the heat and wait a few minutes as the thinly sliced chicken cooks - when you take the first bite, you'll totally understand why it's called "velvetizing"!
The veggies are barely cooked, as they're just added to the hot sauce at the last minute. They keep their vibrant color and are a fresh, crisp contrast to the tender chicken.
Do you have days when you don't feel like cooking? What if you could whip up an incredibly delicious dinner in 30 minutes? Probably quicker than you could run out and pick up some take-out! Check the recipe below, make sure you're stocked with a few basics and you'll be good to go. It's a beautiful, eye appealing dish and everyone will think you spent hours. I won't spill the beans if you don't!
- For the marinade:
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 medium boneless skinless chicken breast thinly sliced
- For the sauce:
- ⅔ cup sweet chili sauce
- ½ cup honey
- 1 tablepoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemongrass
- 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- For the veggies:
- 5-6 mini bell peppers thinly sliced
- 4 ounces sugar snap peas or snow peas sliced in half diagonally
- For garnish:
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup peanuts chopped
- lime wedges
Whisk together cornstarch, egg white, rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon oil. Add sliced chicken and stir to coat. (I like to use my hand for this.) Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sweet chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, lemongrass, lime juice and oil in a medium-large skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer.
Whisk together chicken broth and cornstarch. Slowly add mixture to sauce in skillet, stirring constantly till sauce is smooth and combined.
Remove chicken from refrigerator and drain in a colander. Bring sauce in pan to a boil. Drop chicken slices into sauce in a single layer. Stir gently to immerse chicken in sauce and separate any pieces that may have stuck together. Cover, remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Uncover, add sliced peppers and pea pods. Stir gently to combine. Serve immediately with jasmine rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro, roughly chopped, salted peanuts and fresh lime wedges.
This dish is medium spicy. If you like your food quite spicy, increase the amount of sweet chili sauce (it's called "sweet" but it's got a fair amount of heat) and decrease the honey in proportion. If you like dishes with LOTS of heat, add a few teaspoons of Sriracha sauce to the sauce ingredients.
If, on the other hand, you don't like things spicy at all, decrease the sweet chili sauce and increase the honey. Just keep the same total amount.