Sesame Chicken

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Karaage is a Japanese-style of frying where meats are lightly dusted with starch before deep-frying. The result is a wonderfully crispy coating that also works to seal in moisture. It also absorbs very little oil so this isn’t nearly as greasy as most deep-fried foods.

This sesame chicken dish, adapted from a Martin Yan recipe, employs karaage-style frying and amazingly, when I reheated leftovers of this dish the next day, the chicken was still crispy. Served atop a bed of steamed spinach and alongside rice, it’s a complete and easy to make meal.

Sesame chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup dashi stock
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 bunch spinach, stems removed, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-by-2-inch pieces
cornstarch
vegetable oil
steamed rice

1. Combine soy sauce, sake, dashi, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add cornstarch solution and cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens. Keep sauce warm.

2. Cook spinach in boiling water for 1 minute; drain well and set aside.

3. Dredge chicken in cornstarch; shake off excess. Place a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. When oil is hot, add chicken and pan-fry, uncovered, until no longer pink in center, about 4 minutes on each side. Lift out and drain on paper towels.

4. Place rice in 4 individual bowls; top each serving with 1/4 of the spinach. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch-wide strips, dip in sauce, then arrange over spinach. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice.

Gyoza

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Gyoza, or Japanese potstickers, differ from their Chinese counterparts in that they have a thinner wrapper. They have a richer garlic flavor too, and are usually served with a soy-based rice vinegar and chili sauce. Sometimes I make a double batch as I’m wrapping the gyoza and stick the extras in the freezer – they make for a quick, delicious meal later on, and they’re much healthier than the store-bought frozen version.

Gyoza

Ingredients:

2 cups finely chopped cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
4 green onions, minced
3 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon oyster-flavored sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 package potsticker wrappers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chicken broth

1. In a bowl, toss cabbage with salt; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain and press cabbage to extract excess moisture. Add ground chicken, water chestnuts, 3 minced green onions, sake, oyster-flavored sauce, 1 tablespoon ginger, garlic, and cornstarch; mix well.

2. In another bowl, combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, remaining minced green onion, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon of minced ginger to create dipping sauce. Set aside.

3. To shape each potsticker, place a teaspoon of filling in center of one wrapper. Brush edges with water; fold wrapper over filling to form a half-moon. Press and pleat edges to seal. Set filled potsticker down firmly, seam side up, so that it will sit flat.

4. Place a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil, swirling to coat sides. Add half of potstickers, seam side up, and cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until dumplings are tender and liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

5. With a spatula, remove potstickers from pan and place them on a serving platter. Repeat to cook remaining potstickers. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Chinese Chicken Salad

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I know, I know. Chinese chicken salad is about as unauthentic as an ethnic dish can get. Even though it’s been done time and time again, this version that I adapted from Martin Yan’s Chinatown Cooking has become one of my favorite recipes. It’s healthy, fresh and most importantly, delicious. I usually make a double batch and store the dressing separately so that I can have leftovers the next day. Don’t be deterred by the long ingredient list; it’s actually very straightforward to make.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

1 skinless chicken breast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons plum or hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for deep-frying
2 heads romaine lettuce, thinly shredded
2 green onions, thinly sliced
8 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/4-inch wide strips
1 ounce dried bean thread noodles, broken into 2-inch long pieces
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds.

1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Rub the chicken breasts with the salt and five-spice powder. Lay the chicken on a baking sheet and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Cool the chicken on a rack until cool enough to touch, then shred the meat and set aside.

2. Make the dressing: Whisk the rice vinegar, honey, plum or hoisin sauce, sesame oil, mustard, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger and vegetable oil in a bowl until well blended. Set aside.

3. Pour enough vegetable oil into a wok to come to a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 350F. Carefully slip a few of the wonton strips into the oil and fry until light golden brown, about 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining strips.

4. In the same wok, deep-fry the bean thread noodles in small batches, stirring them gently to separate the strands, until they puff and expand, about 10 seconds. Remove and drain on paper towels.

5. Place the lettuce in a large salad bowl and top with the green onions. Scatter the chicken on top, pour the dressing over the salad, and toss together. Scatter the wonton strips, fried bean thread noodles, chopped peanuts, and sesame seeds over the top.

Crispy Chicken and Kimchi Potstickers

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anyone who knows me knows of my affinity for korean cuisine. and of my affinity for kimchi. and more specifically, my affinity for all things banchan. i can think of nothing better than an array of small plates to complement a plate of bulgogi or japchae. naturally, i relish the taste of kimchi in my dumplings.

Kimchi and chicken potstickers

recipe:

1 t toasted sesame seeds
1/3 c + 1 T soy sauce
1/4 rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb ground chicken or turkey
1/2 lb kimchi, drained and finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 t cornstarch
1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 pepper
gyoza wrappers
2 T vegetable oil
1 c water

1. in a small bowl, stir 1/3 cup of the soy sauce with the vinegar, water, garlic, 1 green onion, and sesame seeds.
2. in a large bowl. combine and mix the ground turkey with the kimchi, remaining green onions, egg, cornstarch, sugar, remaining soy sauce, salt and pepper.
3. place gyoza wrappers on a work surface and lightly moisten the edges of the wrappers with water. place a spoon of the filling on one side of each wrapper and fold in half to form half moons. press the edges of the wrapper firmly to seal. repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
4. in a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. add half of the potstickers to the skillet. pour in 1/2 cup of the water, cover and cook over moderately high heat until the water has evaporated, the filling is cooked through and the bottoms are browned, about 10 minutes. transfer to a serving platter and repeat with the remaining oil, potstickers, and water. serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

Nasi Goreng

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i cooked this nasi goreng a few weeks ago, one of my favorite dishes that i’ve ever made. popular in indonesia and malaysia, this fried rice is easy to make, and best of all, delicious. don’t be put off by the long ingredient list – the results are well worth it.

Nasi goreng and simmered snow peas with mushrooms

recipe:

2 1/2 cups jasmine rice
2 cups chicken broth
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1/2 package krupuk (indonesian shrimp crackers)
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lb skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 lb shrimp, peeled
2 fresh thai red chiles, seeded and minced
1 t salt
4 T ketjap manis (indonesian sweet soy sauce)
1 T fish sauce (nuoc nam)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
sliced cucumber and wedges of hard-boiled egg for garnish

1. rinse rice and drain well. bring rice, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, and enough water to cover rice by 3/4 inch to a boil in a heavy saucepan. cover pan, then reduce heat to very low and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. remove pan from heat and let rice stand, covered, 5 minutes. transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. chill rice, covered, for a few hours.

2. heat vegetable oil for deep-frying in a large pot until very hot. drop a few krupuk into oil and fry until they float to the surface and curl up, about 15 seconds, turn krupuk over and fry until lightly golden, about 10 seconds, then transfer to paper towels to drain. fry remaining krupuk in same manner.

3. heat 3 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat until hot. add shallots and stir-fry 1 minute. add garlic and stir-fry 30 seconds. add chicken and stir-fry until cooked through, about 2 minutes. add shrimp, chiles, and salt and stir-fry until shrimp are just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. add remaining 1/4 cup broth with ketjap manis and rice and stir-fry until rice is heated through, about 2 minutes. remove wok from heat and stir in fish sauce and green onions until combined well.

4. serve nasi goreng on a platter with krupuk, cucumber slices, and hard-boiled eggs.