Friday, August 24, 2007

Tom Kha, take two

Look familiar? Well, as promised, I took my leftover Tom Kha soup and used it as a braising liquid for some skinless chicken thighs I had. (It baffles me that Zabar's sells them skinless since a good crispy piece of chicken skin is so devilishly delicious.)

Anyway, in a 2 qt. saute pan (high, straight sides) I sauteed a chopped shallot in olive oil. Yes, vegetable oil would have been more appropriate to the dish, but I use extra light tasting olive oil when I saute since it's higher in monounsaturated fat. Once they were soft, I scooped them out so they wouldn't burn. In the same pan, I seared my chicken thighs that I had sprinkled with ground cumin and kosher salt (sea salt is good too, but never iodized). After searing them on both sides, I poured my leftover soup into the pan via a fine mesh strainer. This removed the sad looking tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and stray fish bits from the soup's previous incarnation. Then I tossed the uncovered pan into the oven (400 degrees) and promptly forgot about it.

About an hour later I remembered what I had done. About half the liquid had evaporated and the chicken had browned on top. The chicken was falling off the bone and browned on top. This is when I really started to miss the skin, since it would have been crispy... To finish my dish, I took the chicken out of the liquid and started to boil the $#!t out of it. Because there was no thickening agent in it, it didn't turn into a sauce, but the flavor did concentrate as the water evaporated away. FYI, to thicken it, a cornstarch slurry would have been the best choice since it doesn't add flavor like other thickeners (a flour and butter paste, for example) do.

When I was just about ready to take it off the heat and serve, I tossed in some fresh chopped tomatoes with the seeds and excess juice squeezed out, chopped green onions, the shallot I'd sauteed earlier and some fresh cilantro. That all added a bright and fresh quality to a dish that is otherwise rich.

Overall, the dish was a success, although I would have thickened the braising liquid if I'd had cornstarch on hand. If you want to try turning leftovers into another meal, go for it. But remember that you can't keep extending the life of food forever. Yes, the rigorous cooking kills any stray bacteria, but spoiled food is still spoiled no matter how hot you get it.

1 comment:

Kishan said...

Wow, Looks awesome! I hope mine comes out just as good!