Coconut-Scented Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

This one-steamer meal is inspired by Thai tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup). Unsweetened coconut cream lends richness while the aromatics add punchy spice and heat. Once the chicken cools, you can remove the skin and bones, then shred the meat for an exciting chicken salad.

Coconut Scented Chicken with Sweet Potatoes Recipe
Photo: Greg DuPree
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins


  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut cream

  • 2 tablespoons minced scallion

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger plus 1/4 cup sliced peeled fresh ginger, divided

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided

  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated

  • 4 fresh Thai chiles, 2 whole and 2 minced, divided

  • 1 teaspoon lime zest plus 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, divided

  • 1 quart chicken stock

  • 1 pound medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled, halved crosswise, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges

  • Cilantro sprigs and toasted unsweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise through the bone. Using the tip of a knife, cut deep slits in skin sides of chicken at 1-inch intervals. Sprinkle chicken all over with 1 tablespoon salt, rubbing into slits. Stir together coconut cream, scallion, minced cilantro, grated ginger, 2 table-spoons fish sauce, garlic, minced chiles, and lime zest in a bowl; rub all over chicken and into slits. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together chicken stock, sliced ginger, remaining 1 tablespoon fish sauce, whole chiles, and lime juice in a large, deep skillet or pot; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle sweet potatoes evenly with remaining 11/2 teaspoons salt. Spread sweet potatoes inside 1 basket of a 2-tier, 9 1/2-inch round bamboo steamer; fit basket inside skillet. Cover and steam 10 minutes.

  3. Uncover sweet potatoes. Arrange chicken, skin sides up, in second steamer basket; fit on top of sweet potato basket. Cover and steam over medium until sweet potatoes are tender and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 155°F, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. Transfer chicken and sweet potatoes to plates. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and flaked coconut; serve with lime wedges.

Suggested Pairing

American oak–aged Chardonnay

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