Tom Yum Chicken

Many years back I went to the fiftieth birthday of friend who was a keen amateur fisherman, and one of the dishes circulating consisted of pieces of groper and kingfish which had been basted and baked in an amazing sauce, which I tracked down. Since then, the central ingredient, Tom Yum paste, has become much harder to find.

(Don't ever buy the tinned "tom yam" or "tom yum" soup that you will occasionally find in a supermarket. It's a watery waste of money and you'll do far better to buy three cans of anything else for the same total price.)

My friend used a John West brand which local supermarkets no longer stock. After a break of some years I was at last able to procure some Tom Yum paste (manufactured by NR Instant Produce Co Ltd, of Thailand) in an Asian grocery in Henderson, and lacking any immediate stocks of hapuka or kingfish or tuna, I experimented with 3cm dice chicken breast. So simple it's hardly a recipe.

In a small baking dish put about 150 ml of coconut cream and 1 dessertspoon of Tom Yum Paste. Add about 350-400 g of chunked chicken breast, and stir to coat well.

Bake in a 180C oven until cooked through.

Remove after ten minutes or so and baste the meat with the sauce and chicken juices and repeat again after another ten minutes. If you want more basting sauce, cover the baking dish with foil for the first 20 minutes.

Serve with rice and a leafy salad into which a little capsicum and tomato and a segmented mandarine or two have found their way.


I still reckon the Tom Yum version above is the best, but you can vary this principle with any of the Asian and Indian pastes that are around - tandoori, red curry, green curry etc, and you can of course use any firm fleshed fish instead of chicken. If it's too rich for you, you may like to thin the coconut cream with a little milk or water or even a little white wine from the left over bottle in the fridge.






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