Lime Chicken Part 2 (Thai Style)

After last week's classical Claire Macdonald recipe, I thought you might like a change, This is a Thai style recipe of which I've picked up various versions. It seems to have been made famous by the blessed Delia, but at heart it's a Thai go to. Very simple, but first, a few pointers.
Don't get too hung about about quantities of the ingredients, chicken apart. Thai food is all about balance. The last minute tasting to get equilibrium among the sourness of the lime, heat of the chilli and saltiness of the fish sauce is essential. So despite what the recipes might tell you, don't chuck in all your lime juice at once. Similarly, ca' canny with the coconut milk. It can overwhelm the dish if you're not careful.
A little more coconut conversation. Even if you shake the tin of coconut milk, there is likely to be a thick layer of cream on the top. Either stir it in well, or set aside to use for something else. Once you have added the coconut milk to the pan, DO NOT LET IT BOIL.
Finally, the spring onions. I would tend to separate the white and green parts, using the latter for garnish. This garnish, as with the coriander, is optional but I recommend it. Were you to follow the recipe which I have, spring onions in the sauce would be almost raw. Not everyone cares for that. I suggest you put them in at the same time as the chilli so they cook a little.
And in a final piece of paternalism, I was going to mention the chilli. Seeds in, seeds out, up to you. A few month ago, the Retired Captain of Industry took me to task, quoting James Martin to me. What's the point of using a chilli if you're going to chuck the seeds away? That's not correct in every case, but it's a point worth considering. Finally, you won't need salt as that comes from the fish sauce. If you haven't used nam pla before, be warned. It's very strong.
I know that's a long preamble. It demonstrates a truism. Cooking Thai food is simple: cooking Thai food well is a little more difficult.
Ingredients (if you are one of those who usually skips the preamble, I would recommend reading this one)

2 chicken breasts; grated zest and juice of 2 good size limes;; 150 ml tinned coconut milk; 1 green chilli, finely chopped, with or without seeds; 4 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (stalks removed);  4 spring onions, sliced (white and green parts separated, the green parts sliced more finely);  about 2 tsp nam pla (fish sauce); veg oil for stir frying.


Cut the chicken into bite size chunks. Put in a bowl with the zest and juice of the limes. Mix well, cover and leave for an hour (no longer).

Drain the chicken, reserving the marinade. Stir fry for 3 - 4 minutes. Bear in mind it won't get much more cooking, so make sure it's nearly done. It should be turning brown. Add the chilli and the white parts of the spring onions, and stir fry for one more minute. Add most of the reserved marinade. Reduce the heat and pour in the coconut milk. Stir in half the coriander.  Allow to bubble gently for a couple of minutes. Check your seasoning, adjusting with more lime juice and nam pla as required.

Serve immediately, with rice of course, garnishing with the remaining coriander and the green parts of the spring onions if you fancy.

In Thailand they would probably add crispy onions and slices of raw green chilli.







  1. Janet Hood on 21st July 2023 at 5:49 pm

    looks yummy if tame jx

    • Tom Johnston on 22nd July 2023 at 9:00 am

      Yes, but when a recipe features chilli, I always assume you’ll multiply by five. Joking aside, Thai food which they cook for themselves is very hot. Much toned don for British tastes. You are likely to served a bowl of raw chilli slices as a garnish.

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