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~Love Me Tender(s), Asian-Style, Recipe #2: Peanut-Crusted Chicken Tenders w/Coconut-Peanut Sauce ~

IMG_9893On Monday I told you I was dedicating this entire week on Kitchen Encounters to kitchen relaxation, meaning:  easy, fun, full-of-flavor "no brainer" meals that both kids and adults crave. While snacking on a plate of chicken tenders at a local pub with my husband Joe on Wednesday, the idea occurred to me (us) to dedicate my next few posts to our family's favorite chicken tender recipes, and, some dipping sauces too.  We decided on Joe's three favorite recipes, and, they just happen to all be Asian (perfect to serve all at once at a party). While Elvis "left the building" years ago, today's recipe for panko and peanut-crusted chicken tenders with spicy Thai peanut sauce has been known to conjure up a few Elvis sightings here in my kitchen!

IMG_9730On Friday I started off this series of posts by making ~ Love Me Tender(s), Asian-Style, Recipe #1: Panko-Crusted Chicken Tenders w/Chinese 'Duck' Sauce ~.  You can find it by clicking into Categories 1, 2, 11, 13 or 19!

"Panko" is the Japanese word for "bread crumbs" and theirs are considerably crunchier than our Western-style breadcrumbs.  They also absorb less grease, more flavor, and, stay crispier longer!

IMG_9428Chicken tenderloins are the tenderest portion of the chicken breast, and, there is only 1 tenderloin per breast half. Nowadays, they are readily available, fresh not frozen, at large markets and grocery stores.  This is a 6-pound package, which contains about 24-28 tenderloins... enough to make all three of my recipes! 

IMG_9595Before doing your grocery shopping or starting to cook any of these three recipes, I suggest you click into Categories 16 or 25 to read:  ~ Love Me Tender(s):  Is there a difference between a boneless chicken finger and a chicken tender?  Yes! ~.  This super-tender, easy to work with part of the chicken is indeed worth the few extra pennies it will cost!

Want some spicy, creamy, coconut-y-rich, peanut sauce?  

51ahAHfpozL._AA160_A bit about peanut sauce:  This sauce is widely used in the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Africa.  The main ingredients are roasted peanuts or peanut butter (crunchy or smooth), coconut milk, soy sauce and palm sugar.  Pulverized spices (red chile peppers, coriander, cumin, garlic, galangal and/or lemongrass), are almost always added.  You can easily purchase your favorite brand, but, when you see how easy it is to make, I don't know why you would.  My recipe, which came from my Thai girlfriend Kanya, contains one small can of Thai-style red curry paste, which provides all of the above named pulverized spices!

IMG_9773For the peanut sauce:

2  tablespoons sesame oil

1  4-ounce can Thai-style red curry paste

1  13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (briefly stir after opening the can)

6  tablespoons chunky-style peanut butter

2  tablespoons firmly-packed palm sugar or brown sugar

IMG_9781 IMG_9777                                      ~ Step 1. Place the sesame oil and the red curry paste in a small 1-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Continue to cook gently, stirring almost constantly, until the curry paste is bubbling rapidly and is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.  

IMG_9787 IMG_9783                                         ~ Step 2. Add the coconut milk, peanut butter and sugar. Continue to simmer steadily, stirring almost constantly, until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes.  

Remove from heat, cover, and set aside, to cool slightly, about 15-20 minutes.  Serve slightly warm, or:

IMG_9804~ Step 3.  Place in a food storage container (or two) and cool, uncovered, until sauce is at room temperature.  Cover tightly and store indefinitely in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave, stirring occasionally, just prior to serving.

Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups of sauce.

Bring on the panko & peanut crusted chicken tenders ASAP!

IMG_9813For the chicken tenders:

1 1/2  pounds, large, meaty chicken tenderloins, about 8-9 

1  cup all-purpose flour

4  large eggs, at room temperature + enough of water to total 1 cup of liquid

2  tablespoons Thai soy sauce

2  cups panko bread crumbs

2  cups salted peanuts, crushed 

peanut or corn oil for frying

IMG_9607~ Step 1.  Organize what I like to refer to as "a breading assembly line (from left to right):  1)  An 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish containing 1 cup of all-purpose flour.  2)  An 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish containing 4 large eggs that have been whisked together with enough of water to total 1 cup of liquid + 2  tablespoons soy sauce.  3)  A 13" x 9" x 2 " baking dish containing 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs + 2  cups of crushed peanuts (processed as directed below).

IMG_9456~ Step 2.  At the wide, meaty end of each tenderloin you will notice a little white nub.  This is a harmless tendon, and, you don't need to worry about removing it entirely because the part of the tendon inside of the tenderloin is paper-thin and unnoticeable after cooking.  In fact, if you try to remove it all, it is likely the tender will fall apart. Using a pair of kitchen shears, remove the visible piece of tough nub.

IMG_9825 IMG_9818~ Step 3. Place the peanuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Using a series of about 30 rapid on-off pulses, process the peanuts to crumbs.

Transfer the peanut crumbs to the baking dish containing the panko bread crumbs, and, using your fingertips, stir the two together until thoroughly combined.

IMG_9623 IMG_9619~ Step 4. One-at-a-time, dredge each chicken tender in the flour to coat it on all sides, placing them all back in the dish of flour as you work.  When all of the chicken pieces are coated in flour...





IMG_9628~ Step 5. One-at-a-time give each chicken tender a shake, to remove any excess flour, and place it in the egg-soy mixture. Using your fingertips, flip it over once or twice, to evenly coat it in the wet mixture.

Lift it out of the liquid and give it a shake, to allow any excess liquid to drizzle back into the dish...

IMG_9837 IMG_9829Place it in the dish of panko and peanuts. Continue until all tenders are in the baking dish.  When all of the tenders are in, using your fingertips, gently toss and turn them, to thoroughly coat each tender in the crumbs.  Set aside about 5 minutes.

IMG_9656~ Step 6.  In an electric skillet, heat about 1/4" of peanut oil to 350 degrees.  While the oil is heating, place a large cooling rack over a layer of paper towels.

Note:  An electric skillet works great for frying chicken tenders because it controls the heat precisely.  If you do not have one, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. 

IMG_9854 IMG_9842~ Step 7. Carefully place the tenders in the skillet of hot oil and fry, until golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes per side, turning only once.  This timing will vary.  If you are using smaller tenders, they can be done in as little as 2 1/2 minutes per side.

IMG_9867~ Step 8.  Using a pair of tongs, remove from skillet, place on a cooling rack and immediately lightly sprinkle with salt.  Serve warm or at room temperature with peanut sauce for dipping or drizzling:


IMG_9924Love Me Tender(s), Asian-Style, Recipe #2:  Peanut-Crusted Chicken Tenders w/Coconut-Peanut Sauce:  Recipe yields 8 hearty appetizers or snacks and 2 1/2  cups of sauce.

Special Equipment List:  food processor; 1-quart saucepan; food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; 2, 8" x 8" x 2" baking dishes; 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish; 1-cup measuring container; fork; kitchen shears; electric skillet or 12"-14" skillet placed on stovetop; large cooling rack; paper towels; tongs

6a0120a8551282970b016769318118970b-800wiCook's Note:  If you love Thai food, Thai curry and peanuts, I suggest you check out my recipe for ~ Thai Red Pork Curry w/Steamed Jasmine Rice ~ in Categories 3, or 13!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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