This spicy and satisfying dish is quick enough to make after work in the evenings and simple enough to not create a huge mess in the kitchen. Spicy foods come with a lot of health benefits. Most notably, capsaicin (such as that found in the sambal oelek and many other forms of chili peppers) triggers the release of endorphins and can suppress appetite. Some studies even indicate that it can help prevent certain types of cancer. Fortunately, I love spicy foods and hope to include many more recipes carrying these benefits in the future.
Juice of 3 limes
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground red chili paste, found at most Asian food markets)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (double chicken and marinade for a more “normal” fajita ratio)
1 large zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¾ cup sour cream
4 large tortillas
Can be prepared in approximately 1 hour, Serves 4
First, cut the chicken into ½-inch thick strips of about 2 inches in length. Then, mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade. Place the chicken and marinade in a shallow bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, chop the zucchini into slivers ¼-inch thick and approximately 2 inches long. Cut the bell peppers into thin strips, and then halve the strips (so that they are approximately 2 to 3 inches long as well). Slice the red onion into similar-sized pieces.
Place the chopped vegetables into a large bowl and toss with the olive oil – this covers them with just a light coating of olive oil, as well as mixes up the veggies for even cooking. Divide the vegetables up evenly into a large pot and a large frying pan. Sauté over medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. After 5 minutes, add 1 teaspoon (if you like your food spicy, maybe half a teaspoon if you prefer milder food) of sambal oelek to each pan. Cook for approximately 3 minutes more, or until vegetables seem done (and be careful to keep your face out of the steam, the chili paste will make your eyes water!). Transfer frying pan vegetables into the large pot, and turn the pot’s burner down to low heat so that you keep the vegetables warm while you are preparing the chicken.
Using the same frying pan you just cooked the veggies in, cook the chicken over medium-high heat until done, approximately 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. While the chicken is sautéing, chop the cilantro into small to medium-sized pieces and mix with the sour cream – you will need this to cool off the spicy fajitas. You may also want to place the tortillas in a warm oven or the microwave to heat before serving.
Once the chicken is cooked, arrange the chicken, vegetables, tortillas and cilantro-sour cream in bowls and plates and let your guests build their fajitas to taste. Serve with cold beer or a bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.