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Food & Dining // Heart-y Chef
Diana Helfand

The Spicy Taste Of Southeast Asia

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when you went to work each day, you worked with close friends? That’s the kind of job Mccully area resident Khoi Fong has each day working as an accountant with Jeffrey H.K. Chang, CPA in Honolulu.

Khoi is originally from Vietnam, and has been working with Jeffrey for the past 16 years.

She met her husband, Kenneth, a driver for The-Bus and originally from Hong Kong, at a wedding in Honolulu.

The Fongs have a 6-year-old daughter, Katie, in the first grade at Manoa Elementary School.

In their free time, they like to play dominoes and go out with the Changs, whom they consider their extended family. They also like to try new restaurants, listen to oldies music, and have traveled to Hong Kong, Vietnam, Japan and the Mainland.

Galangal may be used like ginger – powdered, bruised or crushed.

One slice of the root is equivalent to half a teaspoon of powder. The powders should be stored in airtight containers and used within a short time. Use small amounts when starting out. Its flavor combines with ginger and lemongrass in Thai cooking, and with white pepper and/or cayenne for seasoning fish, meat or poultry.

Galangal is an aromatic stimulant, and it possesses tonic and antibacterial qualities, which is useful in veterinary and homeopathic medicine.

In India, it is used as a body deodorizer and halitosis remedy.

Watch out – it is said that galangal has been used in Europe and Asia as an aphrodisiac for centuries.

SPICY LEMONGRASS COCONUT CHICKEN

* 4 cups nonfat or lowfat coconut milk
* 6 dried kaffir lime leaves (at Thai markets)
* 3 pieces fresh or dried galangal (at Thai markets). NOTE: dried galangal must be soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons fish sauce
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 2 teaspoons roasted chili paste or 1 teaspoon sliced fresh chili
* 1 tablespoon lemongrass, sliced into 1-inch pieces
* 6 chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-size pieces
* 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
* fresh mint leaves, for garnish

In a saucepan, bring coconut milk to a boil.

Add lime leaves, galangal, lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar, roasted chili paste and lemongrass.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken and mushrooms. Simmer for another 5 to 8 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Taste to see if extra lemon juice, fish sauce or sugar are needed.

If soup is too thick, add a little more coconut milk or water.

Pour into serving bowls. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, mint or basil.

Serve with brown or white rice.

Makes six servings

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