This coconut chicken recipe is one of the first proper meals I ever cooked. I was about 12 or 13 when I made it the first time and I was surprised at how well the flavours permeated the chicken. Being that I’ve come a long way since that age, this recipe has undergone a couple of changes since then, mostly slight balance tweaks, and it still has a tendency to surprise me.
While the marinade for this coconut chicken is simple, it contains lots of strong flavours that fight for your attention. Sour lemon, sweet mirin, salty soy and fish sauce and a robust heat that is soothed by the warm coconut milk.
One of the best things about this coconut chicken is that it’s incredibly easy. The only real cooking you have to do is for the chicken and if you prepare the marinade the night before it can make for an even easier meal the next day — in fact, you could even steam the rice the night before too!
I should point out that the rice is fairly ingenuous as it uses the marinade for its flavour, which means it naturally compliments the chicken and also ensures no wastage, while having the added benefit of being incredibly easy to put together!
Prep Time 15 minutes (+2 hours to marinade)
Cook Time 35 minutes
- 400g chicken thighs
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1/2 lemon (juice)
- 1 clove garlic (diced or crushed)
- 1 tbsp coriander root (+ leaves to garnish)
- 5-6 leaves Thai Basil
- 1 tsp diced ginger
- 1 birds eye chilli
- Half an onion
- 250ml (1 cup) coconut milk
- 2 cups steamed jasmine rice
- Non-stick pan
- Small saucepan
- Chopping Board
- Rice Steamer
- Bowl (for marinading)
- Tongs or chopsticks
Marinading the Chicken
- Finely dice the garlic and ginger and thinly slice the chilli. Chiffonade (finely slice) the Thai Basil and add all ingredients to a bowl. Chop up the roots of the coriander and add them to the bowl as well, setting the leaves aside for garnish. Dice the onion and set it aside also
- Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, mirin and lemon juice to the bowl and mix all ingredients thoroughly.
- Place the chicken on your board. Remove any thick fat from the thighs and cut them into thin strips.
- Add the chicken to the marinade bowl and place in the fridge for up to 2 hours (or as little as 30 minutes).
Note: Before you start this step, steam 2 cups of Jasmine rice.
Cooking the Chicken
- Heat up a non-stick pan with your olive oil. Add the diced onion and fry for 30 seconds or until translucent.
- Carefully remove the chicken strips from the marinade with tongs and add them one by one to the pan — watch out for spitting!
- Cook the chicken until it has browned nicely on both sides, being careful to keep the onion moving around the pan to avoid burning.
Cooking the Rice
- Remove the chicken from the pan and add the steamed rice.
- Pour the remaining marinade into the pan and heat through well.
- Remove the rice from the heat and serve with chicken on top. Add the coriander to garnish.
It’s always nice to have some simple meals to make when you’re too tired to do anything else. The marinade for this coconut chicken recipe can be knocked up in a few minutes and if you are really in a pinch you can just leave it for 30 minutes while you steam your rice, fry up the chicken, finish the rice and then dinner is ready!
This recipe would also work really well with white fish. Something like kingfish would be wonderful, although I would recommend simply cooking the fish in some of the marinade rather than leaving it to sit in it, as the acid from the lemon may start to cook it. You could also add kaffir lime leaf or cinnamon to the marinade to alter the flavour slightly if you want something a bit stronger.
If you want another simple chicken recipe, have a look at my sesame chicken with coconut rice!