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David and Betty - Or Lam

(Laos Spicy Chicken Stew)

Prep time: 45 mins    Cook time: 40 mins    Serves: 4

Ingredients

Infusion Mixture

3 tsp whole black peppercorns

15 Sichuan peppercorns

5 celery leaves

Or Lam

120g glutinous rice, washed, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes

4 chicken thigh fillets

2 tsp peanut oil

Salt and pepper, to season

1L chicken stock

4 long dried red chillies, chopped

1 cup dried cloud ear fungus, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes

1 lemongrass stalk, bruised, soaked in hot water

12 rattan shoots (see tip, below)

4 small finger eggplants, stems removed, cut vertically into partial quarters, leaving eggplant intact at base

2 snake beans, cut into 4cm lengths

50g baby pumpkin leaves, trimmed

3 dill sprigs

4 leaves sawtooth coriander

1 tsp salt

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs padaek (pickled catfish)

1 bunch Thai basil, leaves picked

Method

  1. To make infusion mixture, tie all ingredients in a small piece of muslin cloth.
  2. To make or lam, drain rice. Using a mortar and pestle, lightly crush rice. Transfer to a steamer basket lined with muslin. Steam, covered, over a saucepan of boiling water for 25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Toss chicken with oil and season. Preheat a chargrill pan over high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning, for 6-8 minutes or until browned. Cut into 3cm pieces.
  4. Place stock and 500ml (2 cups) water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add infusion mixture in muslin cloth and dried chillies. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Drain fungus and finely chop. Add to stock. Drain lemongrass and add to mixture. Add rattan shoots and eggplants. Bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, remove half the dried chillies and half the eggplants and transfer to a food processor. Process until a coarse purée forms and return to pan.
  7. Stir in rice, beans and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes or until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  8. Discard infusion mixture. Divide stew among serving bowls to serve.
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