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Seductions of Rice: A Cookbookby Jeffrey Alford
Marinated Chicken Kebabs
Makes 12 to 15 kebabs; serves 6 to 8 with rice
Persian Chelo Rice is often eaten with grilled lamb or chicken kebabs. These savory chicken kebabs are marinated in a blend of yogurt, garlic, saffron, and dried mint before being grilled over charcoal or broiled. Easy and delicious. Serve these with a plate of fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley) and Special Everyday Persian Rice, or any cooked long-grain rice. You might want to offer Oasis Salad as an accompaniment.
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts or a combination
1 cup plain yogurt (whole milk or 2%)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, dry-toasted, crushed to a powder, and dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon crushed dried mints (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut the chicken into small pieces, 1/2-inch cubes or smaller, discarding discarding any fat or tough connective tissue.
2. Combine the yogurt with the remaining marinade ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Place the chicken pieces in a shallow bowl, pour the marinade over, and stir to ensure that all of the chicken is well-coated. Let stand, refrigerated, for at least 3 hours or as long as 24 hours.
3. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill or a broiler.
4. Thread chicken pieces onto metal skewers. Place only a few pieces of chicken on each skewer, and don't cram the pieces together tightly. (If they are packed together, rather than just lightly touching, they will not cook evenly.)
5. Grill or broil 5 to 6 inches from the heat, turning the skewers after 3 minutes, for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Grilled Beef Salad (yam neua)
Serves 6 as part of a jasmine- or sticky rice-based meal, or as an appetizer.
When we're not at home, beef is not something we prepare all that often. But if we are making food for a party, or for a summer potluck, this grilled beef yam is one of our all-time favorite recipes. We'll even splurge and get a very good cut of meat, such as the tenderloin called for in this recipe.
In Thailand, there are probably as many different versions of yam neua as there are cooks, with everyone having a different idea about how to find that perfect balance of hot, sour, sweet, and salty. So before serving, be sure to taste for yourself and to adjust the chile, lime, and fish sauce as you see fit.
1 pound beef tenderloin, at room temperature
About 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (nam pla) or more to taste
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste
2 to 3 bird chiles or serrano chiles, minced
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
4 scallions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/2 cup packed fresh coriander leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 English cucumber, scored lengthwise with a fork and thinly sliced
1. Preheat a broiler or a grill. Slice the tenderloin lengthwise. Rub both sides of the meat with freshly ground black pepper, rubbing with some force to rub the pepper into the meat.
2. To broil, place the meat on a broiling rack so that the meat is 3 to 5 inches from the broiling element. Broil for 6 or 7 minutes on one side, then turn and broil for 6 to 7 minutes on the other side, or until medium-rare.
OR 2. To grill, place on the grill and cook until medium-rare, 5 to 8 minutes on each side.
3. Let the meat cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so that it is easy to slice. (The cooled meat can be put into the refrigerator covered and then sliced several hours later, if more convenient .)
4. Slice the meat as thin as possible with a sharp chef's knife or cleaver, cutting across the grain.
5. In a large bowl, mix the fish sauce, lime juice, and chiles. Toss in the meat, shallots, and scallions and mix to blend all the different tastes. Mix in the coriander leaves and mint. Taste the salad for a good balance between the salty fish sauce, the sour lime sauce, and the hot chiles, and adjust according to your taste.
6. Arrange the slices of cucumber around the edge of a decorative plate or platter, then arrange the salad in a mound in the center. Garnish with coriander sprigs and serve.
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