October 27, 2009

Chicken Teriyaki Donburi = Chikiteridon!

I had no idea that delicious chicken teriyaki was so darn easy.

I've become very interested in Japanese cuisine, of late. I learned how to make maki sushi years ago, but frankly it's not something that I tend to make at home. I have never been to Japan, so my assumptions about the cuisine are somewhat biased by the Japanese restaurants in Vancouver, and somewhat ruthless reading. I'm currently trolling for cookbook recommendations, if you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment or shoot an e-mail my way.

I recently purchased some Japanese rice, and have consequently been playing a little. I've always been fond of donburi - Japanese rice topped with assorted delicious bits - and I had some luck with an oyakodon (chicken and egg donburi) several years ago. Donburi is a favourite (and infinitely variable) and filling lunch when I'm out and about.

Chicken Teriyaki is one of those things that I tend to find, in restaurant preparations, rather too sweet for me, although I do like the flavours. Most of the attractive recipes that I could find specified a mixture of sake, mirin, sugar and soy sauce. Some had ginger and garlic, which doesn't seem to suit the smooth texture of the sauce. The most user-friendly recipe that I found was from Just Bento, a website devoted to the marvels of the bento lunch. This is also where I found the term "Chikiteri", which is quite wonderful. Here is my adaptation.

Chicken Teriyaki
Adapted from Just Bento

Serves 4
Total Prep & Cooking time: 45 minutes, including 30 minutes marinating time

Note: I didn't have mirin (alas! Next time!), so I made do with just sake. The good news is, it was excellent, so don't let a lack of mirin put you off making this as soon as possible.

¼ cup Japanese soy sauce (low sodium)
¼ cup sake
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon plain rice vinegar
6 skinless chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 green onions, sliced diagonally

Mix the soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar and honey in a wide, shallow dish.
Remove any big fatty bits from the chicken and slice the thighs into chopstick-friendly pieces – I cut with the grain into pieces roughly the size of short, fat, carrot sticks. Add the chicken to the soy sauce mixture, stir well, and allow to rest for 15 - 30 minutes (or overnight, if you can plan ahead).

Drain the chicken in a sieve, reserving the marinade.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the canola oil over high heat. Once it is hot enough for a drop of water to sizzle, add 1/3 of the drained chicken to the pan in a single layer. Let it cook without moving the pieces for 30 seconds, then add half the remaining chicken in the spaces around the first batch. Allow to cook further 30 seconds undisturbed, then stir through once and add the rest of the chicken to the pan. Let it cook undisturbed for about a minute (you can keep an eye on the earlier pieces, and flip them if they look like they’re going to burn otherwise) and then stir everything through so that the chicken browns and turns glossy on all sides.

Add the reserved marinade and stir through. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is a lovely dark golden brown and the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency.
Serve with Japanese rice, and garnish with green onions. Stir fried snow peas and shiitake mushrooms make a lovely accompaniment.

Garnish with green onion. Serve with Japanese rice, preferably, and some crisply cooked vegetables (upon reflection, I should have added some ginger to the mushrooms above).

October 17, 2009

Sweet Potato & Chicken Bisque

Quick, delicious, and a teensy bit unusual: perfect raining weather food.

Sweet Potato & Chicken Bisque
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine, October 2009

Serves 4 – 6
Total Time Prep & Cook: 45 minutes

2 large sweet potatoes (orange)
2 boneless chicken breast halves*
3 cups tomato juice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup unsalted peanut butter
1 habañero chile, julienned
1 heaping tablespoon grated ginger
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Cilantro or green onion for garnish

Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork and microwave them until tender (approximately 10 minutes, together). Allow them to cool while you begin the rest of your prep.

Heat the canola oil in a large soup pot, and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the sliced chile, ginger, allspice and tomato juice, and allow to simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Place half of them in a blender or food processor along with the peanut butter and just enough of the stock to moisten. Process until smooth, gradually adding the rest of the stock until it becomes a smooth, thick liquid. It will look a bit like nacho cheese sauce in colour and consistency. Add the puree to the soup pot, and stir gently. Add the remaining diced sweet potatoes to the bisque, and stir though. Allow the soup to return to a bare simmer, stirring as needed to keep it from sticking to the bottom.

At this point, you can serve the soup as a lovely vegan dish. However, if you want a more robust meal, slice some raw chicken into bite-sized pieces (or cube up some extra firm tofu) and stir it into the soup. Allow the soup to continue to simmer very gently on the lowest setting for another ten minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Note: If you have leftover yams from dinner, you can save a step and some time.

Further Note: It is correct that no salt is added to the soup. The tomato juice and vegetable stock are salty enough. If you want more salt, add a pinch right at the end. But you probably won’t need to, and if you used salted peanut butter instead of unsalted, you definitely won’t need to.

* Or prawns. Try peeled, raw prawns in place of chicken, especially if you are going to be eating it all up instead of freezing leftovers.