I really I don’t know what to call this. I’ve been living in Peru these last months and have had a “kitchen” the last few. I say “kitchen” because I have a stove with 2 burners, a mini fridge, and a shelf. I also have 1 frying pan, 1 small knife, and 1 bowl. Cooking is limited to say the least. Oh I also have 6 spoons. Just in case my friends all come over and we all need a spoon.
I love the food in Peru. The causa, the ceviche, the beautiful fruits. I could write a novel. For now though this feat I’m proud enough that I really wanted to write this down. As much as I love Peruvian food, I love a little variety in my life. Living in a small city it’s basically impossible to find that array of ingredients so I stock up on certain ingredients when in Lima or I ask friends to bring me items. A few weeks ago I requested a small bottle of fish sauce. Then in Lima I got another friend to bring me a can of coconut milk. With a limited supply of these items, I had a decision to make regarding what to do with this liquid gold.
I have easy access to ginger, lemongrass, limes and more limes, vegetables… but of all my favorite recipes I seemed to be missing one thing or another. To make Thai Coconut I’m missing the kaffir lime leaves. To make curries, well… I’m missing the curry! The list goes on. So I decided to wing it and hope for the very best and not waste a drop of my gifts.
Having only one pan to make everything this turned into an amazingly simple dish and took just under one hour. I’m sure you can fancy-it-up and you probably don’t have to dig the dried and non-rotten pieces of lemongrass out of your compost because you forgot to buy more fresh. I also don’t have access to pre-made chicken broth. I have now learned that the butcher will laugh at me but will also kindly remove the chicken feet for me.
Chicken, Spinach, Pumpkin in Coconut Broth
1 large chicken thigh and leg
1 3-4 inch piece of ginger, peeled
3-4 pieces lemongrass, whole
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 kilo pumpkin, skin removed, cut into 2-inch pieces (or 1/4 kilo pumpkin and 1/4 kilo sweet potato)
1 tomato, quartered
1 bunch of spinach, stems removed
1/2 can coconut milk*
2-3 Tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
1 Tablespoon basil, chopped
2 Tablespoons cilantro
Juice from 2-3 limes
vermicelli, quinoa, or rice
Place chicken, ginger, lemongrass, garlic and 4 cups of water in a pan and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Add the pumpkin and cook until just tender. Add the tomato, spinach and coconut milk. Cover so the spinach can wilt and cook completely even though the liquid is not covering it. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 2-4 minutes.
While the spinach is cooking, place vermicelli in a bowl and pour hot water over the noodles. Let sit until noodles soften- about 2 minutes.
Add the fish sauce and sugar to the coconut concoction to taste. Add the herbs and lime juice just before serving.
Strain the vermicelli and place a serving in each bowl. Pour the soup over the noodles and serve.
*This is a brothy dish. You can add the whole can of coconut milk and less water at the start if you have endless access to coconut milk and want it creamier.