One afternoon when I was pacing the grocery store thinking about what to cook for the week, I remembered the coconut shrimp with rice I had at Les Ba’get in Montrose and immediately had a craving for something hearty and nutty. Here’s a southeast Asian twist on the classic chicken tender meal. Also, kudos to my mom for giving me ideas on how to marinade the chicken.

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chicken thighs
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl oz)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 lime
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup light mayo (optional)
  • 2 table spoons sriracha (optional)

Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

In a mixing bowl, mix together the coconut milk, soy sauce, minced garlic, garlic powder, and lime juice into the bowl. Cut the chicken thighs into long strips and mix into the marinade. Put into the fridge and let soak for at least 4 hours.

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After the chicken marinates, pour the whole wheat flour into a bowl, crack the 2 eggs into a second bowl, and mix the panko bread crumbs, shredded coconut, and salt/pepper into the third bowl. Now it’s time to prep the tenders!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Take out a baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil, and grease with coconut oil or olive oil.

Dip each strip of chicken into the flour, then into the egg, and lastly into the bread crumb/coconut mix. Make sure there’s a generous amount of the bread crumb and coconut mix to fully cover the tender. Place chicken onto the baking sheet and repeat until all chicken strips have been breaded. Put the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, you can prep the rice. This rice recipe is inspired by Vietnamese sticky rice and complements the coconut flavor of the chicken very well in my opinion. In a rice cooker bowl, mix the rice, chicken broth, soy sauce, olive oil and peanuts together and start the rice cooker. If you don’t have a rice cook, mix it into a pot to cook on the stove (heat on high until it boils and decrease to low to simmer for 20 minutes).

If you want a dipping sauce, mix the light mayo and sriracha together for a spicy mayo dip! I like to go sans dip to be healthy, but Rey loves the combo.

The chicken and rice should finish cooking around the same time if you’re lucky. 🙂 Use a spatula to serve the chicken and fluff the rice before you serve. You can steam up some vegetables to go along with the dish if you’re die-hard about getting your veggies in for the day.

Voila! Chicken tenders with an ethnic twist, except instead of fries, you get some delicious sticky rice.