Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Colors of the Table and Thai Chicken Dip
Colors of the Table and Thai Chicken Dip

Beige is the most unappetizing hue in the food color spectrum.

On banquets spread with kaleidoscopic arrays of tantalizing colors, beige is the ugly duckling. Between the brilliant ruby strawberries and the bright orange tangerines on the breakfast table, the bowl of oatmeal goes unnoticed. The simple poached chicken breast doesn’t stand a chance against the gorgeous smoked salmon or the sliced grilled steak that teases us with its striations of juicy rare red meat and dark brown crust.

Beige is the chromatic equivalent of the plain Jane at the high school dance, standing against the wall, ignored. Beige is every food photographer’s worst nightmare. Beige is always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Speaking of brides, even beige’s close cousin, white, gets its fair share of the attention without even trying. Marshmallows, coconut, and meringue get the glory while tuna salad and sauerkraut fade quietly into the background.

A few beige foods have escaped this color’s insipid reputation. Foie gras, by virtue of its luxurious flavor and cachet, does not carry the beige stigma. Coffee diluted with too much milk (a.k.a. caffe latte) is quite popular these days, thanks to the Starbucks marketing department and a jolt of caffeine. The great extrovert of the beige food world, grated horseradish, by its sheer exuberance will not be ignored.

But most beige foods have neither the requisite outgoing personality nor a cadre of press agents to encourage forks in their direction. Take this warm Thai Chicken Dip, for example. It has about as much visual appeal as a bowl of oatmeal, but behind that quiet façade lays a powerhouse of Thai flavors. Green curry paste, coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, fish sauce and mint turn plain ground chicken into a dip of complex Thai flavors.

One taste of this and you will never again take beige foods for granted.

Warm Thai Chicken Dip

2/3 cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
1 pound ground chicken
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Heat coconut milk in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and cook and stir for a minute or two until well blended. Crumble in chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is no longer pink.

Add the peanut butter, lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the mint.

Serve hot or warm, garnished with mint sprigs.

For dipping, serve crackers, pita chips, or other sturdy dippers.

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Blogger Rambo 4 said...
Beige food is not evill ;-p