Friday, July 20, 2012

Lemongrass chicken

Our dinner plans were waylaid for 2 nights in a row after I planned this meal, resulting in a 36 hour marinating time by the time we finally got around to eating this chicken. It probably doesn't need 36 hours, but holy cow, er, holy chicken, was it tender and flavorful!  The fresh lemongrass is amazing.  The caramel was a little tricky in that you need to watch it. I over did it the first time and had to start over- but it was a fun lesson in the properties of sugar. Adapted slightly from a recipe in Food & Wine's Chef Recipes Made Easy from Eric and Sophie Banh, who own Monsoon in Seattle.
Can't. Stop. Adding. Kale. To. Things.

Lemongrass Chicken
Smirking delicious chicken.

4-6 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 T Asian fish sauce
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
6 T sugar
3 T canola oil
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, tender inner white part, minced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced (may substitute a small red onion)
1 jalapeno, diced and seeded (may decrease or increase depending on taste)
1/3 c cilantro, chopped

Combine the fish sauce, garlic, curry powder, salt, and 2 T of sugar in a small bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Let it marinate for up to 36 hours if you have time, although you can also cook it immediately.
In a small skillet, mix the remaining sugar or honey with 3 T water and cook over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Cook without stirring until a deep amber caramel forms, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T water.  Transfer the caramel to a small heatproof bowl.  Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat. Add the oil, and let it heat up. Add the lemongrass, shallot and jalapeno and stir-fry for a minute. Add the chicken and caramel and stir-fry over moderate heat until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is slightly thickened- about 6-8 minutes depending on your chicken. Toss with cilantro and serve over rice.

Steamed Jasmine Rice with Kale and Scallions
A quickie side dish that I threw together just so I could add kale to our meal.  

4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 cup finely chopped kale with tough ribs removed
2 scallions
dash white pepper
1 tsp canola oil

Heat the canola oil in a large pan. Add the scallions and stir-fry for a minute. Add the kale and stir-fry for an additional minute, until it is a rich, dark green.  Toss the rice in and add a dash of white pepper. Toss until everything is mixed together. Serve.

Stir-fried Asparagus
My standard stir-fry that I make with just about any vegetable. Today it was asparagus.  Snap the tough ends off.  The asparagus will tell you where to snap it- it should be as close to the tough purple end as possible, but it should snap off easily. You really don't need to peel your asparagus. I have never understood why this is necessary- plus you lose all that fiber. Having grown up on an asparagus farm, I could think of about 50 more things to share about my absolute favorite vegetable.  For the haters who say it's too mushy, my response is that you are cooking it too long. Mushy asparagus is gross.  If you stir-fry it, it can still have a little texture. If you like it softer, just cook it a little longer.  And don't leave out the garlic. 

1 bunch of asparagus, about 1 lbs, with the ends snapped off, and cut on the diagonal
2-4 T water or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 T canola oil

Heat the canola oil in a pan until it sizzles when you add a drop of water. Add the garlic and stir, but don't let it burn.  Add the asparagus and stir-fry until it is tender, about 3-5 minutes. Midway through, when the pan is  starting to get dry, add the chicken stock or water.  Add salt to taste.  If you like your asparagus on the tender side, turn the heat off and cover the pan for a minute or two.  (If you let this step last too long, your vegetable can get overdone. Don't say I didn't warn you.) Serve.

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