Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swimming Rama

I love Thai food, but am a pretty big wimp when it comes to spice.  I feel like I can't enjoy or taste food when it's too spicy and my nose is running like crazy.  It's not pretty, folks.  I also don't like when holding back on spice means the dish lacks flavor, which can happen.  I love curries, but not if the above happens.  Thai can be tricky.  Swimming rama is the answer to my Thai food dilemma.  Swimming rama is chicken and peanut sauce on a bed of steamed spinach and it tends to be mild, yet still delicious and flavorful.  Plus, I like that there's a pretty hearty helping of spinach since spinach is good for you and all.   
On another note, I've recently tried several new recipes for peanut sauce and have been disappointed.  I'm not sure what I was thinking because I already have a peanut sauce recipe that I love from Ina.  After making yet another sauce that was just so-so, I decided I could use Ina's recipe for swimming rama by thinning it down a bit with coconut milk so that it was more like a sauce than a dip.  Problem solved, lesson learned. 

Also, feel free to make the peanut sauce ahead of time to let the flavors blend and to save yourself some time.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 2 (6 ounce) bags fresh baby spinach
  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders or breasts, sliced into very thin strips
  • cooked white or brown rice


Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, and lime juice.  Cook for 1-2 minutes. 

Add coconut milk and stir until well combined. 

Set aside peanut sauce or refrigerate if making ahead for later use. 


If you HAVE a steamer basket:  Set steamer basket in a large pot and add water within an inch of the bottom of the basket.  Bring water to a boil over high heat.  Fill basket with as much spinach as it will hold, cover and steam for 30 seconds.  Leaves will be bright green and slightly wilted.  Repeat with remaining spinach.   

If you do NOT have a steamer basket (which I do not) but you do have a mesh strainer:  Fill large pot with 4-5 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Fill strainer with spinach leaves.  Rest strainer on the top edge of the pot and cover with the pot's lid for 30 seconds.  Remove to colander and repeat with remaining spinach.


Bring water to boil in a large pot or saucepan. 

Add chicken to boiling water, place lid on pan, and turn off heat.

Let stand for 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Drain chicken. 

Serve chicken and peanut sauce over spinach and rice. 

Source:  peanut sauce slighty modified from Ina Garten

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