This low-fat dish of Thai Chicken With Asparagus is easily made, but it has levels of flavor interesting enough to please the palate and do away with any notion of pallid diet fare.
Note: If you prefer or if it's more convenient, you can use fresh green beans instead of asparagus.
The recipe is among the user-friendly selection in the cookbook "100 Best Good Housekeeping One-Dish Meals" (Hearst Books, 2004, $14.95), which ranges from soups and stews to casseroles, skillet suppers, pies and sandwiches. Along with classic traditional American dishes, you'll find Mexican, Greek, Peruvian, Moroccan and other cuisines represented.
The trio of Asian seasonings used in this chicken skillet dinner — ginger, chilies and Asian fish sauce — turns up the heat nicely. The Asian fish sauce (nuoc nam or man pla) is available in specialty sections of some supermarkets or in Asian groceries.
THAI CHICKEN WITH ASPARAGUS
Preparation 25 minutes, cooking time 30 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 3-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds), thinly sliced
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 jumbo onion (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches by 1 inch), peeled and cut into matchstick-thin strips
2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and cut into matchstick-thin strips
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
In 10-inch skillet, heat 1 inch water and salt to boiling point over high heat. Add asparagus; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes, until asparagus is just tender-crisp. Drain asparagus; set aside.
In medium bowl, mix sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and soy sauce. Stir in chicken until evenly coated. (Coat chicken just before cooking, because the lime juice will change its texture.)
In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes or just until it loses its pink color throughout, stirring occasionally. With tongs or slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a clean bowl, leaving any cooking liquid in skillet.
Add onion, ginger and jalapenos to skillet and cook until onion is tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to bowl with the cooked chicken.
In same skillet, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat until hot. Add the asparagus to the skillet and cook until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return onion mixture and chicken to skillet; heat through.
Toss basil and cilantro leaves with chicken mixture just before serving. Makes 4 main-dish servings.
Nutrition information per serving: about 290 cal., 38 g pro., 21 g carbo., 6 g total fat (1 g saturated), 82 mg chol., 1,555 mg sodium. Recipe from "100 Best Good Housekeeping One-Dish Meals," Hearst Books, 2004, $14.95.