Cambodian Cook-Off

I’m enjoying the Tesco Real Food Cook-Off show on Channel 5, shown on Tuesdays at 7.30pm – not least because lovely Tesco have asked me to try out some of the recipes at home. Somewhere, somehow, they may have got the idea that I am not the world’s most patient – or talented – chef and that a bit of help and inspiration would be extremely welcome. Maybe they’ve been hiding under the dining room table. Well, the good news is that if I can cook one of their recipes and produce something edible for my troops, you definitely can.

This week, I had a go at Cambodian Chicken, which is in the family favourites category. This dauntingly came with not one, but two bags of red chilli peppers – there were ten in all. If I’d put that lot in, we would have needed a fire extinguisher and my girls wouldn’t have touched the dish. But the recipe made it clear that I should just add chilli to taste, so I was cautious and just used one in all. The chicken recipe was very fast to cook and had an absolutely delicious sauce with peanut butter and greek yoghurt – not a combination I would have come up with myself in a million years. The yoghurt was a zero fat variety too, so that cut the calorie count. The dish cooked so quickly that I had to chop and dice like a maniac to get my Pineapple Fried Rice ready at the same time, but that was entirely my fault as I thought the chicken would be simmering for ever.

Both parts of the dish were easy to make and the end result was a very colourful plateful. The verdict was overwhelmingly positive, though Child Two is not a fan of fruit in her first course. She said she would eat it again if I left out the pineapple, and in fact I would be tempted to do just plain rice next time, as the peanut sauce is quite rich and overwhelmed the other flavours a bit. Plus there was a lot of chopping for the rice!

A big thumbs-up then, and we’re looking forward to trying our next recipe soon.

Here’s the Cambodian Chicken recipe in case you want to give it a go:

Cambodian Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice

Serves: 3

To prepare: 10

To cook: 20-30


For the chicken:

Handful of coriander – with the stalks

1 red chilli (or more or less – as you like the heat)

1 garlic clove, pealed

½ inch of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stalk of lemon grass (optional)

1tbsp (15ml) ground nut oil

4 chicken breasts, diced

5tbsp (75ml) peanut butter

150ml (1/4 pint) chicken stock

200g (7oz) tub of Greek yogurt

For the rice:

1 pineapple

2 large eggs

1tbsp (15ml) ground nut oil

1 inch fresh root ginger, grated

2 red chillies finely chopped

1tsp Chinese 5 spice powder or other mixed Chinese spices

3 rashers smoked bacon, cut into thin strips

250g (8oz) pre-cooked basmati brown or ordinary rice

3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 handfuls frozen peas

Fresh coriander leaf for garnish


Cambodian Chicken:

Put the chilli, coriander, garlic, ginger and lemongrass/lime leaves (if using) into a food processor and puree together. Keep and little of the chilli and coriander back for finishing the dish.

Heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the chicken until brown all over.

Add the coriander paste and the peanut butter and stir to coat the chicken and make a thick sauce. Add the chicken stock and yogurt and simmer the whole mixture until it is a thickness you desire, more than 10 minutes to make sure the chicken is cooked.

Throw over the reserved chilli and coriander and stir through to add a lovely bit of colour.

Pineapple Fried Rice:

Cut the pineapple in to 1 inch chunks.

Place a large frying pan on a high heat

Beat the eggs together and fry into a large thin omelette. Remove from the pan and cut into strips and set aside.

Lightly fry spring onions in groundnut oil, add ginger, chillies and the spices. Add bacon, fry together for 2-3 minutes.

Add rice and fry stirring the mixture so it doesn’t stick. Add the tomatoes, peas and pineapple to the pan and stir until completely mixed.

Cook gently until the peas are cooked through. Finally top with the chopped coriander and serve warm with the chicken topped with the omelette.


Hints and Tips

The thickness of the curry depends on what other elements you choose to bring to the table. If, for example, you have some naans (homemade or shop-bought) on the side, you may want a runny mix for dipping. If you’re planning on simply plopping it on the rice, then it may be better to have it a bit thicker so that the whole dish doesn’t become a big gluey mess.

Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list for the rice – most of them are store cupboard staples and need only a bit of chopping. Of course you can leave out any of the ingredients or even add any you like!


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