When a recipe “makes your soul scream,” please don’t cook it.
Cooking Light’s “Thai Chicken in Cabbage Leaves” is one such recipe and I ignored what my brain was telling me as I read the instructions. One portion of the instructions says to add the first three ingredients (chicken, sliced red onions, and water) and cook in a non-stick pan. Not too bad so far, but the combination of water and a non-stick pan gave me pause. Fond development is always a good thing that seems to have been ignored by whoever developed this recipe. The next instruction was “cook until chicken is done and then drain”. WHAT??!!! My soul screamed as I could see what little flavors those ingredients might have developed, as the chicken cooked, going down the drain. I imagine that the folks at Cooking Light thought they were doing the readers a favor by saving a few calories on the oil that would normally be used to perform the chicken cooking step. Cooking liquids are often very full of flavor and should not be tossed without a very good reason. I saw no such reason here.
Even after modifying the recipe, and shamefully serving it to my family anyway trying to salvage what I knew was going to be a disaster, it still sucked. The dish was very heavily unbalanced, tasting only of fish sauce and lime. I tried to fix it by adding some things to sweeten it, make it a bit saltier, and add some umami. Mirin and some medium sweet soy sauce (a variant of kecap manis) were added. While the resulting dish was edible, it was a lost cause at the start that my meager skills as a “chef” could not save. I can only imagine what the unmodified dish would have been like. I am still shuddering at the thought.
So, when your brain tells you that a recipe is seriously flawed, do yourself a favor, listen to it and don’t cook it. I could have done much better creating this recipe ad hoc from the depths of some severely damaged brain cells and still have been money ahead in this race.
I hope to never post such recipes here and take credit for them as my own. This I pledge to you.