Spicy Thai Drumsticks

At the end of 3 months, I just finished scrubbing in my last surgery this week. I never thought I’d like the sterile surgery environment, but the operating room (OR) is so exciting. I love poking organs. I love chopping things off. And I love suturing.

Ok, as a medical student, I don’t get to do that much, but I can retract! I can suction blood! I can cut strings! I can hand forceps from the nurses to doctors! I can be useful!

I was in a femoral tibial artery bypass for vascular surgery, with stents, embolectomies, and a zillion sutures. For 9 hours straight, I didn’t (i.e. couldn’t) eat anything, drink anything, go to the bathroom, or leave the OR. Luckily, bodily needs and functions somehow don’t seem to matter much when your patient keeps bleeding and bleeding.

Or an 8 hour colon cancer case for general surgery, where we had to remove the stomach, colon, and pancreas. I took specimen pictures (I giant alien-ish invasive tumor) and videotaped the surgeon’s pathology report. All my hours of photography practice prior paid off indeed.

Or removing the entire voice box and separating the esophagus and trachea and making a permanent hole in the neck for head and neck surgery. For 8 hours, I retracted the patient’s (rather large) neck until my arms were cramping, and I decided I needed to do more weightlifting.

Anyways, a resident gave me suture kits to practice at home.

Chef Uy: Awesome! I can go suture my chicken thighs at home.
Resident: Oh, erm, maybe practice on something you can throw away, like pig’s feet. Are you, uh, going to eat that chicken afterwards? 
Chef Uy: Of course! Those sutures will be more sterile than anything in my kitchen. No need to waste food!

Ok, suturing my chicken (and bananas) failed since the skin was too soft and detached from the skin, but it was still good practice for knot tying and handling those tiny needle drivers without stabbing yourself.

And, here’s a good way to use up that chicken after suturing (yes, I did eat my chicken after removing my sutures). This is a really easy Thai recipe that’s good for potlucks – it’s sweet and mildly spicy. Of course, anything with sweet chili sauce and brown sugar is guaranteed to be a winner. Adapted from Christine’s Recipes.

Spicy Thai Drumsticks

4 lb chicken drumsticks and thighs
1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy), plus additional for dipping
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 stalks cilantro
pepper, to taste
oil, to fry

Combine lemon grass, orange juice, ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, cilantro, and pepper to make the marinade. Add chicken legs and marinate at least one hour or overnight.

Put a ceramic baking dish in oven, and preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a fry pan. Reserve marinade. Cook drumsticks and brown all sides over medium heat (chicken does not need to be fully cooked).

Transfer chicken to a baking dish and pour the reserved marinade onto the chicken. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cooked. Broil the last 5 min if desired. Remove from oven, and serve with additional chili sauce on the side.

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