She's turned the ground meat dish into a chicken salad crunchy with waterchestnuts, spiked with ginger-lime sauce and served in a lettuce leaf (at top). Wouldn't that be cool for a poolside lunch, or anywhere when the temperature soars?
The recipe, Chiang Mai Chicken in Lettuce Cups, is in her book, "Everyday Thai Cooking" (Tuttle: $24.95). And it's easy, as she showed the other day in a cooking demo at Melissa's/World Variety Produce (above). The demo took place there, because Melissa's distributes the ingredients needed for Thai recipes, including lemongrass, galangal, fresh turmeric, Thai basil and Thai chiles.
Chin's Chinese heritage made her a natural for cooking Thai, which is heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine. As a caterer, she specialized in Asian dishes, which you'll also find on her blog, The Sweet and Sour Chronicles.
"Everyday Thai" (above) is not another basic Thai cookbook, but a lively and personal account of the way Chin cooks. Her recipes are oriented toward quick and easy food for all tastes including kids, and she won't scold if you subtitute brown sugar for palm sugar and a skillet for a wok.
Here is how she makes the chicken. Beneath it in the top photo is a glimpse of her Thai steak salad, another recipe to rely on in hot weather.
CHIANG MAI CHICKEN IN LETTUCE CUPS
From "Everyday Thai Cooking"
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons minced galangal or gingerroot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh red or green chile, preferably Thai, finely sliced
1/2 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped canned water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion, white and green parts
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
8 large butter lettuce leaves
Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce, see below
Heat oil in a wok or skillet on moderately high heat. Add galangal, garlic and chile and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground chicken and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add water chestnuts and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Add cilantro, green onion, lemongrass, fish sauce and red pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with lettuce leaves and Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce, allowing guests to form their own wraps.
Makes 4 appetizer servings.
GINGER LIME DIPPING SAUCE
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon peeled and minced gingerroot
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 fresh hot red or green pepper, preferably Thai, deseeded and finely sliced
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cool slightly. Mix 1/4 cup of the syrup with the ginger, lime juice, vinegar, fish sauce and chile in a small bowl. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Discard the remaining syrup.
Makes about 2/3 cup.