I got strawberries.
I got spinach.
I even got mesclun.
Any one of those alone is enough for me to rejoice. Strawberries, spinach, and lettuce are all listed in the “dirty dozen,” produce with the most pesticide. So, anytime I can feed my family the organic homegrown version of them, it is cause for celebration.
But, really, it was cilantro that ruled the kitchen this past week. The plants were all bolting. I kept some growing, for green coriander seeds (thank you fellow bloggers, for the idea), but harvested most of them.
Cilantro starred in my kitchen this week.
Oh, I started a new batch from seeds, but it remains to be seen how long I can keep them going before they, too, will bolt. The weather is getting warmer and cilantro doesn’t like heat.
Cilantro is one of those herbs that I don’t think will freeze well, although I have never attempted it. I’d like to be proven wrong here. Please let me know if you have successfully preserved cilantro.
It doesn’t keep in the fridge for long, either, so when you have a glut of it from the garden, you want to use it in a liberal manner without having its flavor overwhelming a dish. I had to look up several cookbooks for cilantro recipes, but most only asked for a sprig here, a sprig there.
By the way, I noticed that cilantro used to be called Chinese parsley in older cookbooks. I’m not sure why. I hardly ever see cilantro appear in Chinese food. I’m more likely to encounter it in Indian, Mexican, Thai, or Vietnamese cuisine.
Aside from using it in the obvious and often served pico de gallo and tacos or the less often served sopa de lima, cilantro didn’t see a lot of creative usage in my kitchen. It was time to give it its proper due.
That was when I came up with this Thai-inspired chicken. I won’t say it’s an authentic Thai recipe, but the flavors and ingredients used are typical of Thai food. I hope my Thai readers/friends will forgive me for this. This recipe was conjured up only because I love Thai food so much.
3 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced lemon grass
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
Dash of pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
Lots of minced cilantro, at least 1/2 cup
1 tbsp butter
Pickled wild garlic or capers (optional)
1. Mix lemon grass, ginger, lime juice, and fish sauce.
2. Marinade chicken in the mixture, for 30 min.
3. Heat a wok or skillet on high heat, add 1 tbsp oil.
4. Cook chicken for 2-3 min. on each side, or until golden brown. They will splatter, so be careful. Transfer chicken to a plate.
5. In the same wok/skillet, sauté garlic and onion until onion is transparent, with the remaining oil.
6. Add chicken broth, and let simmer for 2 more min.
7. Add sugar, a dash of pepper and soy sauce (to taste here, but be careful, the fish sauce used earlier for the marinade is salty.) Add minced cilantro. Stir to distribute cilantro. Then add the chicken back.
8. Add butter and toss. (Authentic Thai food doesn’t use butter, of course. But I’m telling you it added so much flavor to the dish. If you consider it a heresy, then use corn starch to thicken the sauce.)
9. I added my supply of pickled wild garlic during the last seconds of cooking, about 1 tbsp. It added another layer of flavor to the dish. But it was already delicious without it. Or try capers, instead.
As a side note, I’ve never weighed anything I harvested before, but Annie’s Granny shows how fun and satisfying it can be to tally up your harvests. Plus I was plain curious.
Imagine my shock when I found out my spinach harvest registered at more than half a pound on the scale! The grocery store scale, so it should be accurate, right? Yes, I smuggled them in for a weighing, since I didn’t have a kitchen scale that worked.
Nobody could have accused me of stealing those spinach leaves from the store; they were enormous! For once, my organic vegetable looked like it was on steroid compared to the one in the store, instead of the other way round.
As much as how proud I am of my “professional-looking” spinach (it really is the best spinach I’ve grown), I’m pretty sure it’s nothing compared to other harvests from other gardens. See them for yourself, tomorrow on Monday, at Daphne’s Dandelions, where gardeners around the globe show off their harvests for a Harvest Monday blog hop.