I seem to be in charge of the appetizers at all the recent parties among my friends. To be sure not to repeat myself too much, I’ve been trying to use my imagination. The most recent favorite is this baby bok choy with gluten-free Thai coconut chicken. The bok choy is a nice fresh, crunchy way to serve up shredded chicken with a creamy coconut sauce. Any kind of green can be used, endive works well too.
Be sure to check out more of my gluten-free appetizer recipes including my collection of gluten-free tartlettes, mini quinoa stuffed peppers, gluten-free corn dog bites and gluten-free spring rolls with peanut dipping sauce.
Make Ahead Chicken Appetizer
I serve the chicken cold, so this dish works really well if you make the sauce and chicken a day ahead, then just assemble on the day of. Even better, the coconut sauce will get more flavorful as it sits. The sauce will get very firm in the refrigerator, so heat for 5-10 seconds in the microwave to loosen it (if you get it too warm, it will lose its creamy texture).
Coconut Sauce Ingredients
Thai fish sauce adds a little burst of umami and some saltiness. Some vegan options are equal amounts of coconut aminos or a splash of soy sauce or liquid aminos. The latter two are much stronger in flavor so you will use only a couple of drops.
Coconut milk – The full fat canned kind, not light, is what you need to make the sauce rich and creamy and full of coconut flavor.
Lemongrass is a unique and wonderful flavor and can usually be found in your market in the herb section. It looks a bit like a woody version of green onions. If you can’t find it, substitute it with the zest of one lemon.
Fresh ginger – You could us the powdered stuff but I think that using fresh is worth a few extra seconds. The bright fresh bite that comes from fresh grated ginger is way better than the powder. Here is how to grate fresh ginger, with ease so that it will flavor this Thai coconut sauce perfectly.
- As a meal – Serve this gluten-free Thai coconut chicken hot over jasmine rice with sauteed sugar snap peas
- As an appetizer – Put the chicken in a large serving bowl with baby bok choy or endive leaves on the side and let everyone make their own.
- For lunch – Use large leaves of romaine or iceberg lettuce to make a cold wrap.
Gluten-Free Thai Coconut Chicken
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 limes
- 1-2 stalks of lemon grass
- 1 2 ″ piece of fresh ginger
- 2 tsps. Thai fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. agave or your sweetener of choice
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper it will not make it spicy
- 1 lb boneless white meat chicken I use tenders
- 4-5 heads of baby bok choy
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- Zest the limes and squeeze the juice from one of the limes. Roughly chop the lemon grass into 1/2″ pieces. Grate the ginger on a microplane and save any remaining piece that’s too small to grate.
- Place the lime zest and 2 tbsps. juice, chopped lemon grass, grated ginger and any remaining piece, along with all the other sauce ingredients in a small pot.
- Place over a medium flame and bring to a simmer. Then turn the flame down enough to keep it barely bubbling. Continue to cook for 20 minutes keeping a close eye on it, assuring that it does not boil.*
- Strain the mixture into a small bowl, pressing on the solids to get all the flavor out. Then discard the solids. The mixture will be somewhat watery at this point, but will thicken as it cools. The sauce should be served at room temperature or slightly chilled to keep its creamy texture.
- Gently pull the stalks apart from the baby bok choy, rinse and set on a towel to dry.
- Season the chicken with salt and cook using the method of your choice – sautéing or grilling is ideal. As soon as the chicken is cooked, place it in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the coconut sauce. Toss to get all the chicken coated and set aside cool for about 10 minutes.
- Using clean hands, shred the chicken into small pieces.
- Stir in 1/2 of the chopped cilantro.
- Spoon the chicken onto the stalks of baby bok choy as a kind of “lettuce cup.” For the larger pieces, I cut the bok choy stalks in 2 pieces, the leafy part and the firm part. Both pieces can be used.
- Sprinkle with a little chopped cilantro and place them on a platter.
- Place the remaining coconut sauce on the side so that diners can spoon some on as they serve themselves.