Monday, August 7, 2017

Home-Style Chicken Kebat

Kebat is a classic Burmese stir-fry dish that is common throughout homes in Myanmar (formerly Burma), but not typically found in restaurants there. San Francisco eatery Burma Superstar has brought this comforting dish front and center and serves it with a variety of protein options including chicken, beef, shrimp, and tofu.

In the cookbook of the same name, all of these recipes are available in both restaurant-style and home-style variations. The main difference is the spice mixtures used, but both include the standard sliced onion and tomato wedge components along with a fragrant finish of cilantro.

I elected to try the home-style chicken kebat, which is insanely easy to make. It features Madras curry powder and a hit of fish sauce along with a generous amount of garlic. The flavors are simple yet exquisite. A slight crunch from the onions, juicy and sweet tomatoes, and delicious warmth from the curry powder all soaking into grains of plain rice. The book suggests jasmine, but I used basmati since that's what I usually have on hand.

I tossed the chicken with the cilantro at the very end, but you can simply sprinkle it over the top when you serve it. Either way, this kebat is quick, easy, and full of flavor, making it a solid choice for a weeknight excursion from the norm. I would love to try it with some of the other proteins like shrimp and beef in the future.

Home-Style Chicken Kebat
Serves 3 to 4; 6 as part of a larger meal
(from Burma Superstar)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (5 to 6 thighs) (I used chicken tenders)
1 1/2 teaspoons Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small to medium-yellow onion
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons water
2 Roma tomatoes, each cut into 6 to 8 wedges
Handful of cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped, for garnish
1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges for garnish

Slice the chicken into strips no wider than a 1/2 inch. Transfer to a bowl and use your hands to mix the chicken with the curry powder, fish sauce, and salt. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or refrigerate overnight.

Halve, peel, and core the onion. Slice half the onion thinly, and finely dice the remaining half. Set the onion slices aside to add at the end.

In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the chicken and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the water and continue to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes more. Mix in the sliced onion and tomatoes and cook for about 1 minute more. The onions should still be crisp in the center (not completely wilted). Serve with the cilantro on top and lime wedges alongside.


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