Have you been to the Cheesecake Factory? If you haven’t, then you may not have experienced the specific brand of acute anxiety that their colossal, something-from-every-country-on-earth-sized menu induces when you’re trying to order. Don’t mistake me, I love the food there. But, darn it, I hate making decisions, and there are just way dang too many delicious-looking choices there!!
However, one dish that I never regret ordering and that I love dearly is their Bang Bang Chicken & Shrimp. Picture this: a rich Thai curry made with coconut milk that’s served with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables, surrounding a mound of rice drizzled in peanut sauce and sprinkled with toasted coconut for a hint of sweet. Need I say more? And today I’m going to show you how to make a dish that tastes just like it! I swear it’s the same recipe. I love it. You will love it. Those who taste it will love YOU. And you will love yourself for making it. Lots of love here, people! Guess you better just put it on this week’s menu.
This recipe is somewhat more labor-intensive than your usual everyday meal, so plan it for a weekend or a special occasion. Did someone say Valentine’s Day? Hello?! The perfect excuse to make it.
First, it’s time to get chopping. Dice an onion into small pieces (1/2 cup). Grab a piece of ginger about 1 1/2 inches long, use your knife to cut away the outer skin, and then dice very finely, so you end up with about 2 teaspoons worth. Dice up 2 green onions into thin slices, and then coarsely chop up a big handful of peanuts.
Now let’s talk julienning. If you haven’t done it before, I’ll walk you through it. Grab a small zucchini and chop off both ends. Now angle your knife so you are NOT cutting perpendicularly to the zucchini (this will allow you to slice longer pieces). Chop the zucchini at an angle into 1/4 inch slices until you have a stack of slices. Stack several of these on top of each other, and then slice into small matchstick-sized bites, as demonstrated by my hubby here (please tell me you didn’t really think I had man hands). :)
Now chop 2 medium carrots into matchstick-sized pieces as well, and mince 5 garlic cloves (I just use a garlic crusher, so I don’t have a picture of that).
Get your rice cooking. I used 2 cups of Jasmine rice in the rice cooker.
Let’s assemble our spices. Combine together 1/2 tsp. each of ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, salt, black pepper, ground cloves, and turmeric. This is what makes this dish so incredibly flavorful.
To a large saucepan, heat up 2 tsp. chili oil over medium heat. This stuff has got a bit of a kick, so if you prefer a very mild curry, just use vegetable oil in its place.
Once hot, add the diced onions, garlic, and ginger.
Oh, and um… be prepared to cough while this stuff is first cooking. It’s potent stuff! But it will calm down once we add in the coconut milk, I promise. Stay with me. Sauté for 1-2 minutes and then add in a cup of chicken broth.
Now add in your spices. This stuff will smell really strong. Don’t worry, it will all work out in the end! Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add 3 cups of coconut milk. Oh, and make sure you shake the can really well before you add it in.
Stir it all up and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After simmering for 20 minutes, add the zucchini and carrots that we chopped earlier, as well as ½ cup of frozen peas. Let it simmer for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce by combining ½ cup creamy peanut butter, 6 T. water, 4 tsp. sugar, 1 T. soy sauce, 1 tsp. rice vinegar, 1 tsp. lime juice, and ½ tsp. chili oil in a medium saucepan.
Heat until mixture just comes to a boil, then turn off the heat and set aside.
Toast some coconut by spreading a cup of sweetened, shredded coconut on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F, stirring every couple of minutes, until the coconut is golden-brown. Set aside. I do apologize for the lack of picture here. I had some toasted coconut on hand, so I skipped this part.
Chop a large chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, and shell 20 small raw shrimp. Coat the chicken and shrimp with corn starch.
Heat some vegetable oil in a skillet, and then add the coated chicken first, cooking for a few minutes, before adding the coated shrimp.
Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked through and the shrimp are pink in color. Is it weird if I thought the little shrimp were cute? Hmm, yeah, maybe.
Let’s start making this thing look fancy! Pack a small bowl (or in my case, a ramekin) with rice, and then flip it over in the center of your plate and tap on the sides.
Gently lift away the bowl, and (hopefully) you should have a perfectly-shaped mound of rice in the center. Don’t mind the rogue grain of rice you see in my picture. Rebel.
Arrange some chicken and shrimp evenly around the rice.
Then pour some curry sauce over the chicken and shrimp.
Then… I got tired of taking pictures. Oops. Here’s what goes on top of the rice mound: Drizzled peanut sauce, a pinch of dried parsley, a tablespoon of chopped peanuts, and finally a sprinkling of diced green onions.
Now for the last touch: sprinkle the toasted coconut over the curry, around the rice.
Whew! Sounds intense, but don’t be afraid. It is TOTALLY worth it! Enjoy your Cheesecake Factory Bang Bang Chicken and Shrimp at home this weekend. And love yourself.
Recipe slightly adapted from food.com.