Kiwis are an odd-looking fruit. Yet the brown, hairy skin is deceptive: what lies underneath is a beautiful, bright green or golden interior, with concentrically scattered tiny black seeds. Many kiwi converts say the succulent and flavorful inner flesh is reminiscent of strawberry, banana and even pineapple. That said, there is no fruit out there quite like it and the only way to truly appreciate its intricate, unique nature is to try one yourself.
The kiwi is native to China and originally called the Chinese gooseberry. When the fruit was introduced to the United States from New Zealand, the name was subsequently changed to kiwi, after the native bird of New Zealand. Catchy isn’t it? The fruit’s popularity can be attributed to its unique, sweet-tart taste, its high vitamin C content and the attractive appearance of its flesh.
Although delicious halved, scooped out and eaten as is, kiwis can be peeled and sliced, and make a great accompaniment to salads and desserts. Cross-sectional slices are very attractive and are a popular garnish to fruit tarts.
With several kiwis on hand, I was interested in learning more unconventional uses of the delicious fruit. What if, I thought, I use its natural unique flavors to impart a tangy note on a Thai-inspired meal? The tropical-tasting fruit would surely compliment coconut rice, a popular dish in Thailand. And adding pan-grilled, marinated chicken would make for a complete, satisfying meal.
So I set out to prepare the dish I had conjured up. The result was, in fact, what many desire in a meal: easy, healthy, kid-friendly and tasty. Best of all, the it really highlighted the kiwi’s natural beauty and unique flavor.
Below the recipe, I show how the meal can easily be assembled in a divided tupperware (or several small tupperwares) for a school lunch. Cucumber and carrot sticks make a nice accompaniment.
Pan-Grilled Chicken with Thai Kiwi Salsa and Coconut Rice
In this satisfying main course, grilled chicken is paired with a vibrant, tangy kiwi salsa and sweet coconut rice. The Thai kiwi salsa is versatile and would also go well with shrimp, pork, or salmon. You can also try to use brown rice, but the cooking time will be considerably longer.
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
1 tablespoon canola oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
For kiwi salsa
3 kiwis, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons nam pla
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 jalapeno or 1 Thai chile, seeded and finely chopped (or to taste)
For coconut rice
1 cup uncooked basmati rice, rinsed
1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Thinly sliced cucumber
- Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, nam pla and canola oil in a shallow dish until combined; season with pepper. Add chicken pieces and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
- Meanwhile, prepare the kiwi salsa: combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing to combine.
- To prepare coconut rice, combine rice, toasted coconut, coconut milk, water and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through. Remove from heat; let stand covered. When ready to serve, fluff with fork.
- Heat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Pat chicken dry and discard marinade. Add chicken to the pan, cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through. Serve with coconut rice and Thai kiwi salsa. Garnish with cilantro and cucumber.