Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thai Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Skewers

So you buy a can of coconut milk for a sauce but need only half a cup. Here’s what to do with the leftover: marinade. Thick, silky, sweet coconut milk makes a deliciously rich brine-like marinade for chunks of chicken breast, penetrating the meat to ensure a tender, juicy finish. It works. And it’s wonderful.

To complement (or contrast?) that rich sweetness, I made a quick hot-and-sour sauce to dip both the chicken and vegetables into at the table. It doesn’t take much, and a little goes a long way.

For the vegetables, I think eggplant does great on the grill. Buy a small, firm one—you can go with two or three Japanese or Chinese varieties, but one small American variety works well too. Plan for about 10 one-inch pieces.

Note: I used a grilling method popular in Japan for this recipe—that means elevation on bricks. Please see this recipe for the lowdown on brick grilling.  

Serves 2-3

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp light brown sugar, divided
  • 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces (10 pieces total)
  • 2 Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 10 1-inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 10 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 4 wedges
  • peanut oil for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • steamed white rice, for serving
Chicken Pieces 
Prepared Vegetables
  1. Combine the coconut milk, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar in a bowl and add the chicken, submerging completely. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours.
  2. Combine the chiles, garlic, fish sauce, water, tomato paste, sesame oil, and remaining 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand. Re-warm gently before serving, if desired.
  3. About 30 minutes before grilling, place the eggplant, bell pepper, and onions in a bowl and drizzle with peanut oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Chicken in Marinade
Cooked Sauce
Ready to Skewer
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat. Wrap 2 bricks tightly in aluminum foil. When the fire is ready, place the bricks on the grill grate, 9-10 inches apart (depending on the length of your skewers), with direct heat in between.
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off. Thread 5 pieces on each of 2 skewers, leaving at least 1 inch free on each end. Thread the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion, alternating, on each of 2 other skewers, leaving at least 1 inch free on each end.
  3. Lay the chicken skewers on the grill with the ends resting on the bricks and the meat over the fire. Grill 3 minutes. Turn and grill 3 minutes longer. 
  4. Lay the vegetable skewers next to the chicken skewers and grill, turning several times, until lightly charred and the chicken is cooked through, 10-12 minutes longer, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
Chicken Ready to Grill
Vegetables Ready to Grill
Beginning to Grill 
After 1st Turn
Vegetables Added
Grilled Skewers
Divide the sauce into individual small serving bowls. Serve the skewers over rice with the sauce alongside.

Thai Grilled Chicken and Eggplant Skewers


  1. What a great use for leftover coconut milk, these sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend?!