Hello again! What with starting a new summer job and going on a fantastic vacation to Greece (more on that to come), I’ve been super busy. A little too busy to blog unfortunately, but I have been cooking up some great food to enjoy before work. This Swimming Rama is something I had saved in my recipe folder for months and months, but never got around to cooking during the school year. But while shopping at the Asian supermarket, I found cans of coconut milk for pretty cheap and decided I’d try my hand at making this dish for BovineBoyfriend, who was staying at my house that week.
It turned out to be so delicious that we promptly devoured the entire pan of chicken, yet I was left wanting more. It was so good that somehow I wound up at the Asian store again buying more coconut milk just so I could make it again the following week.
I’ll admit, it’s not the most photogenic dish. In fact, these pictures probably look pretty revolting, and I was struggling to capture a shot of the peanutty deliciousness that could do it justice, but every single picture looked like something the cat threw up. Take my word for it though–this is something you’ll want to make again and again, especially if you like peanut butter or Thai food. I’m already planning the next time I can make this dish…
But first, you’re probably wondering, what the heck is Swimming Rama? I had certainly never heard of it before I came across Rhonda’s blog post on Dining Alone. She got it from an old Thai cookbook that I eventually tracked down as Thai Cooking and More. From what I’ve gathered after reading various blog posts, Swimming Rama (aka Praram Long Song) is an Americanized Thai dish of meat in a rich peanut sauce served over steamed vegetables. It sounds so simple, but the peanut sauce is just divine. I would gladly down cardboard drenched in that sauce.
As you can see from my pictures, I kind of dropped the ball on the steamed vegetables part. I’ve never worked my mom’s giant steamer contraption before and BovineBoyfriend was so hungry that I just wanted to get lunch on the table as fast as I could, so I just skipped that step entirely. Not the healthiest lunch, but when I made it again for myself, I did serve it with a salad on the side and felt a little better about myself. The other changes I made included the omission of bell pepper because I hate bell peppers, and the omission of the red chili pepper and ground red pepper just because I had a cold sore and was on strict orders not to eat anything spicy. Oh, and I also reduced the amount of cornstarch the second time I made it because I thought the full amount made the sauce too goopy.
The recipe I’ll post here is my simplified, bastardized version of Swimming Rama, but I encourage you to go to Rhonda’s original blog post here in order to see the full recipe.
(Adapted from Thai Cooking and More)
Serves 3-4 swimming ramas
1 1/4 pounds of chicken breast, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used 1 cup by accident the second time I made it and it was still good!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chunky or creamy peanut butter (I used creamy.)
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (I left this and the paprika out, and it tasted fine.)
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
6 cups + 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons lime juice
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. (I used a pot with 8 cups of water.) Add chicken to boiling water and immediately remove saucepan from heat. Let stand, covered for 4-5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and garlic. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until tender.
Reduce heat to medium. Add peanut butter, brown sugar, fish sauce, paprika, and red pepper. Cook and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in coconut milk until well blended.
Stir sauce constantly over medium heat until bubbling gently. Reduce heat to medium low. Combine cornstarch and water and pour into sauce. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until thickened. Stir in lime juice.
Mmmm…I must confess, after I was done with lunch, I sat down with the pan and scraped the pan clean. No leftover sauce in this house!
Some notes: Be careful not to over-poach the chicken! Tough chicken breasts do not a good meal make. Also, if you have any leftover coconut milk (which you probably will, since 1 cup is a little over half a can), feel free to throw it into a smoothie or freeze it in a plastic bag or ice cube tray. Or you can do what I did and add it to a healthy chocolate avocado cake (and did I mention it’s vegan?). I’ll write up about the post soon, but in the meantime, enjoy your Swimming Rama!