Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A little bit of feelgood goes a long way...

Not knowing what I where I was headed when I started this, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all came together (40 min?) and how very nicely it turned out.  Here we have a low-fat, high protein, good-for-you-in-practically-every-way kind of dish, a simple dinner and/or lunch that will make your life easier, and possibly better.  Try it, you’ll like it!

Um Yum Salad

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Lime, Shoyu, Sugar, Sriracha sauce
Sesame oil, Peanut oil
Salt, Pepper, Garlic, Ginger
Red cabbage, Celery, Carrot, Onion
Water chestnuts
Sesame seeds

Pre-heat the oven to the standard 375 or so.  Into a measuring cup or small bowl, juice half a lime.  A nifty hinged citrus press which is a perfect match to your bright green tiny casserole cum garlic keeper (thank you very much… Love it!) will do the job quite nicely, or just squeeze it through your hand or whatever method you normally use.  Being fortunate enough to live within walking distance of all kinds of organic produce, and having acquired a taste for the real thing, and also rarely if ever having used an entire bottle before it went ‘sour’, I no longer opt for citrus juice concentrates, but do so if you must… Add 2 tbsp of shoyu, a tsp or two of agave syrup or sugar, and a good squirt of sriracha sauce.  Stir, taste, set aside.

Pour a bit of sesame oil in a mid-sized oven-safe skillet, along with a good douse of peanut (or canola) oil.  Heat the oil and then throw in two chicken breasts, and sear them over high heat, with a good turn of salt and white pepper (or black) on each side.  A note of caution here: I would strongly recommend NOT using your new “highly heat resistant” plastic spatula to flip them (with all due respect and gratitude to The Giver, this is one reason why I eschew plastic cookware… user error, perhaps, but still.  High heat does seem to imply cooking.).  Once the breasts have browned nicely, stir a generous tbsp each of minced ginger and garlic into the oil, and cook for a minute or two, just enough to bring out some flavor.  Add the sauce, cover, and put in the oven to finish cooking.  (Or you could reduce the heat to low and leave on the stovetop, just be careful not to burn.)

Rinse a cup of quinoa and put it in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water.  Bring this to a low boil.  Meanwhile, slice up the following into bite-size pieces of your desired dimensions and place in large mixing bowl: 2 cups red cabbage, 1 stalk celery, 1 cup carrot (been really loving those Nantes from the co-op this winter, so light and sweet), the better part of a can of water chestnuts (or just eat a few and put all the rest in there), a tbsp or two of finely sliced red onion (scallions would probably be a better choice if you have some but, you know, use whatever you have), and a tbsp of skillet-toasted sesame seeds (I used black, for color and texture, but the regular unhulled variety would be just fine.  Not sure I’ve ever toasted the hulled whitish kind, but I suppose you can…?).  Stir this up.

Check the quinoa; it should be about done by now.  So should the chicken.  Mine wasn’t completely thawed to begin with, but it was easily done in the time it took to chop veg, and quite juicy.  I didn’t have a plan for the liquid, so decided to dice the chicken in its pan and let the chunks soak in the sauce for a couple minutes while the quinoa finished cooking;  it was a good idea, so do that.  When the quinoa’s done, dump it onto the veg, add the chicken and sauce and stir it all together.  The heat will par-cook the vegetables ever-so-slightly—just right.  Let that sit while you cut a good handful of fresh cilantro, 2 or 3 tbsp—some stems are welcome and thinly sliced is nice, no need to chop it up too much (incidentally, a kick-ass Kyocera ceramic knife, also a lovely gift, will take care of that with ease).  Toss, taste, adjust seasonings (shoyu, lime?) as necessary (not).  Serve at room temp. 

No comments: