December 14, 2005
Five out of Ten
My last post, the You Are What You Eat list, was both easier and more difficult to come up with than I thought it would be. Sure, the items just tumbled out of my head and onto the page, but I agonized about whether they were truly representative.
As I was eating lunch today, I noticed with some bemusement that my little container of leftovers contained five of those top ten items: Rice, lemon, chicken, onions, and chiles. Chicken Yassa, to be precise.
On the weekend, I made a stop at the South China Seas Trading Co. on Granville Island, which is my go-to destination for a number of hard-to-find ingredients including hominy, epazote, dried chiles, and all manner of interesting Asian and Central/South American ingredients. As always, just standing in the store caused me to revise my weekly menu substantially as I stared at piles of fresh poblano peppers, long garlic chives, jarred mole sauces, and fresh young ginger and turmeric roots. A brightly coloured pile of habaneros by the cashier mocked me until I slid a couple into a brown bag and added them to my basket - and my menu. Fresh habaneros don't have a long shelf-life, so I immediately shouldered Yassa into my menu plan. One must take advantage when one can, and Yassa is a little lighter on preparation than Jerk, which is another favourite use for the habanero.
Traditional Yassa recipes start with marinating the chicken and proceed through an on-the-bone grilling stage before the dish is completed. My adaptation is really more of a quick stew, starting off-the-bone and simmering the marinated meat in the lemony, mustardy matrix that makes up the sauce.
Whoa. I can't believe I left mustard off my list. That would have made it six out of ten!