Tomatillo Chicken Stew


True life: I have the opposite of resting bitch face.

As my friends have noted over the years, I don’t really have an “angry” expression. My facial range runs from mildly displease to maniacally happy. Alas, my resting friendly face has led to many strange and uncomfortable encounters over the years.

Take today, for instance. I was buying some ingredients for dinner, when the cashier struck up a friendly conversation by asking if I was Chinese. I replied that I was, and he asked if I’d ever been to China. We then somehow got on the topic of Tiananmen Square, and in a rather contrived manner, he somehow made a pickup line out of Tiananmen:

Cashier: I’m so about the China life, but I’d totally get kicked out of China.

Me: Just don’t mess with the government and you’ll be fine.

Cashier: Oh I am so not about that life. (Seems to be his catchphrase.) I’d probably get thrown out for throwing a protest party in Tiananmen…speaking of parties, what’s your plans for this evening?

Me: Wait, what?

Seriously though, how can Tiananmen Square, site of one of the worst cases of government brutality against its own citizens, be used as a pickup line?

So I had to decline his invitation to hang out this evening. My excuse? “Oh sorry, I already have plans.” Plans to make a delicious tomatillo chicken stew, that is. This dish is infinitely more satisfying than conversing with a guy stricken with intense yellow fever. It’s comfort food, exactly what I needed after an exchange with yet another guy who saw me as no more than some tiny, smiley, Asian female.

Moral of the story: don’t use Tiananmen as a pickup line. And don’t say “ni hao” to me, flash the peace sign, and think I’ll find it endearing. It’s straight up offensive, and I’m definitely “not about that life.”

Tomatillo Chicken Stew (adapted from Simply Recipes) – makes 4 servings

Tomatillo Sauce

6 tomatillos

1 jalapeño pepper, diced (add more if you want more kick)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Juice from 1/2 lime

1/2 tsp salt

Pinch of sugar


1 1/2 lb boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1-in cubes

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

3/4 cup chicken broth

Tomatillo sauce

3/4 cup cilantro

Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse tomatillos well. Cut tomatillos in half and place them, cut side down, on aluminum foil-covered baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes, until the tops of the tomatillos are blackened. Let cool enough to handle. Pulse tomatillos, peppers, garlic, lime juice, salt, and sugar in a blender until well-blended.

Coat the bottom of a thick-bottomed pot with olive oil, then heat oil for a few minutes at medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken cubes with salt and pepper, then place a few pieces in pot, being careful not to overcrowd. Brown chicken on both sides. After all the chicken has been browned, lower heat to medium low and put in the onions, cumin, and coriander, adding more olive oil if necessary. Cook onions until they’re translucent, then add the garlic. Cook for thirty seconds more, until fragrant.

Add the chicken, tomatillo sauce, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 20 minutes, then mix in 1/2 cup of cilantro. Simmer until the chicken is fork-tender, 10 minutes. Garnish with the remaining cilantro.


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