Easy Family Dinners Are Closer Than Thailand


Easy family dinners can come from your own kitchen but have the flavors of far away. I mean that you don’t need to cook like the greatest Italian Chef to make an Italian inspired meal. You don’t need to study in Thailand to use the characteristic flavors in a simple cooking method.

Basically, if it’s good to you, it’s good. I’ve had some commenters on the internet tell me that “You didn’t make the crepes in the authentic way.” Or, “real beef bourguignon isn’t made that way”. What they don’t realize, was I was just trying to make something that appealed to me.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to inspire the world to do, cook in a way that is pleasing to them. I want to transform people from frustrated recipe followers into home kitchen masters. I want people to cook for their own enjoyment, using the flavors in their head and the ingredients in their cabinets.

The biggest detriment to easy family dinners at home is the written recipe. People search for recipes. People swap recipes. Some recipes work, others don’t work. Sometimes it comes out okay, sometimes it doesn’t. If you’re ready to “Burn Your Recipes” (incidentally, the title of my cooking dvd series), and cook with fast simple methods but generate great flavor, follow this procedure today.

I just made up a recipe using the ingredients in my pantry. I call it “Peanut Coconut Shrimp Thai Fry” because it uses the flavors of Thailand, but comes from my own kitchen and creativity.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Sesame Oil
Chicken Breast, sliced
Wasabi Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Carrots, Sliced
Broccoli Florets
Coconut Milk or Soup
Peanut Butter
Soy Sauce

All the fast dinner ideas I’ve given you this week have included a stove-top sauté or stir fry. This is the quickest and easiest way to create a one-dish dinner, saving clean-up time as well.

After I test that the wok is hot with a few drops of water, the sesame oil is added to the pan as a conductor of the heat and to add the distinct sesame flavor. The sliced chicken breast is stir-fried in the sesame oil until it starts to turn white on the sides.

If the chicken sticks to the bottom of the pan, it’s no problem because that “fond” will become part of our pan sauce when we use a liquid to deglaze the pan.

So far, this easy family dinner could have any international flavor that we’d like. But, to give it a truly distinctive Pacific Island flavor, I’ll add dried Wasabi powder and red pepper flakes to combine those flavors with the chicken and sesame. I’ll add sliced carrots and broccoli florets to the stir fry, but you can choose the vegetables you like best.

From deep in my pantry, I’ve found a can of Thai Coconut Soup. It’s been in my closet for quite a while, but now becomes the liquid for my sauté. It deglazes the pan by dropping the temperature quickly and dramatically, releasing the fond from the bottom of the pan.

The coconut flavor isn’t the only pantry item into this improvised easy family dinner. A scoop of peanut butter and some soy sauce are always in my cabinet, and they make a perfect compliment to wasabi, pepper, coconut pan sauce I’ve got going.

The most simple part of this procedure is also the most intelligent. By placing the lid on the pan we change from a direct heat method of cooking to an indirect method. With the lid off, all the heat comes from the bottom of the pan. It’s dry heat that allows moisture to evaporate. Placing the lid traps all the moisture and cooks in an indirect fashion.

It’s a simple matter to check the pieces of chicken with a thermometer, or taste for doneness. But when you place this easy family dinner onto their plates, you won’t believe how quick this process was. Whether you go all the way to Thailand, or choose Italy or China for your inspiration, at least it came from your own kitchen and your personal creativity.

About Chef Todd

Chef Todd Mohr is a Certified Culinary Educator who has empowered home cooks all over the world with the reliable, dependable, repeatable METHODS behind cooking that build confidence, generate creativity and enable anyone to cook with the ingredients THEY desire.

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