Vanuatu - Chicken Lap Lap
I wasn't sure what to expect but with a name like "lap lap" it had to be good. And it was!! The chicken was juicy. The rice was so flavorful! Part of me felt like I was getting a bit of island flavor back when I was living in Chicago, which is far from any island, period.
The very traditional way of making this dish is to actually wrap it in a banana leaf, but unfortunately at the time of living in Chicago, I could not find any banana leaves and therefore, adapted this from a recipe that was an adaptation of a more traditional recipe. Hence, a skillet version. But the flavors are there, and it was delicious.
The sauce was also a pleasant surprise, but at the same time, not necessary at all if you don’t feel the need to include it. But I gotta admit, it was really good mixed with the rice. Have you been to Vanuatu? Or any Oceanic islands? Let me know!
4 chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons oil, divided
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons curry powder
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
1 14-oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup taro root, grated, or sub sweet potato
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 thai bird chile
1 kaffir lime leaf
5 garlic cloves, diced
2 tablespoons ginger, diced
2 tablespoons flour
1 14-oz can coconut milk
3 scallions, sliced
Rinse and dry the chicken. Season with the salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl or gallon ziplock bag along with the rest of the marinade ingredients. Only use one tablespoon of oil in the marinade. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
In a large skillet or pot, heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, remove the chicken from the marinade and place it in the oil. Cook for 4 minutes per side. Place the chicken on a plate or cutting board, and cover with aluminum foil.
Add the one teaspoon of oil to the skillet you just used and saute the onion for about 3-5 minutes, until translucent and soft. Add the rice and give it a good stir to combine with the onion.
Next, add the spinach and give it an additional stir for about one minute, until it starts to wilt.
Pour in the chicken broth. With a wooden spoon, deglaze the bottom of the skillet to get all the tasty bits that are stuck to the bottom.
Add the coconut milk, diced tomatoes, and grated sweet potato. Season with salt. Let it come to a boil, reduce to a nice medium heat, and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes.
Add the chicken to the skillet, cover again, and cook for 10 more minutes.
During the last 10 minutes, grab a sauce pan and heat it up to a medium. Add the coconut oil.
In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of coconut milk with the two tablespoons of flour.
When the coconut oil starts to shimmer, add the thai chili, lime leaf, garlic and ginger and give it a good stir. Pour the coconut milk into the saucepan and whisk in the flour milk mixture. This is to prevent any clumps. Finally, add in the scallions.
Stir often, and cook until the sauce starts to thicken. It shouldn’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low and let it stay warm until your main meal is done cooking! Remove the thai chili and kaffir leaf from the sauce pan.
Time to plate up! Plate a layer of rice on a plate, and serve the chicken on top. Drizzle a generous helping of sauce on top of the chicken and serve with tomato or lime wedges, and some chopped basil on top. You can also garnish with thinly sliced scallions.
Recipe adapted from Boulder Locavore.