Monday, June 30, 2014

Easy Braised "Teriyaki" Chicken

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Our kids love the flavor of regular Teriyaki Chicken, but sometimes I'm not up to the work of it. This braise hits all the notes and makes my life easier. 

Since "yaki" refers to a direct heat cooking method like grilling, griddling, or even some kinds of pan frying, it wouldn't be quite accurate to call a braised or stewed dish a something-yaki, but this recipe generally mimics the familiar flavor profile we've come to identify with Teriyaki Chicken, so there you have it - Braised "Teriyaki" Chicken.

That step to brown and crisp the skin under the broiler is bonus, but in the summer heat, you might prefer to use skinless chicken and skip it. You'll miss out on the skin, but you'll save a little time, energy and discomfort, and you'll still have something delicious and family-friendly to serve up.

Easy Braised Teriyaki Chicken
Serves 4 to 6
Time: About 60 minutes
Printable Version

- 3 pounds chicken wings or drums and thighs, patted dry and brought to room temp
- 1/2 an onion, cut into 1/4-inch wide pieces
- 6 thin slices of fresh ginger root (about 1/8-inch thick)
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt to season chicken
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2/3 cup rice wine (you can use sake or a semi-dry white wine)
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- a chopped green onion for garnish

1) Put all the ingredients into a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven or a large, deep saute pan, with the chicken skin side down. Bring to a gentle boil, covered, over medium heat.

2) Once it comes to a gentle boil, let it stay there for about 2 minutes. Give the chicken a gentle stir or two to redistribute the ingredients then turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, lid askew for another 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the pieces of chicken mid way so the skin side is up.

3) 15 minutes before the braise is over, preheat your oven broiler so you can brown and caramelize the chicken skin. Once the braise time is up, put the chicken about 6 inches under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how brown you want the skin, but making sure to check at 3 minutes.

I say this all the time, but things can go from perfectly caramelized to horribly burnt in a matter of seconds under the broiler.

If you have one of those broiler drawers under the oven, preheat the oven to 500F instead and place the pot so that the food is 6 inches under the top heat element. Probably the second rack in the oven.

4) Transfer the chicken to a serving dish (or serve it in the pot in which you cooked it), garnish with chopped green onions and serve with steamed rice and a salad of choice.

Enjoy. :)


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carving Our Online Space & (Hotter Than It Looks) Thai Curry

Just five more recipes to transfer over from the old blog, and I'm good to lock it down. Feels good to be taking more steps forward in the evolution of my work. 

Unrelated but on my mind, when social media is your medium, you encounter and repeatedly interact with a lot of different personalities. And you try to be reasonably patient and generous with your interpretations of the written word, understanding that a lot can get lost in translation between live and print communication. 

Sometimes people are clearly malicious, and they're easy enough to weed out quickly and in good conscience. Other times, people aren't clearly malicious, or malicious at all, but something about the interaction between you consistently gets under your skin in a bad way. And sometimes in the interest of trying to be fair to them, you inflict on yourself a loss of tranquility that ends up disserving not only you, but the people who come to you after them while you're in this unsettled state of mind.

To me, it's important to continue to exercise that desire to be fair, even if it costs you a little discomfort. But it's also just as important to know when to cut your losses in clear conscience. We owe it to ourselves to endeavor to be good, decent and fair human beings, but no one is owed the privilege of annoying or disturbing someone else, even if it's just owing to bad chemistry between two good people.

Moving right along...

On the night this recipe was created, we had shrimp, shrooms, and snow peas with which to make dinner, and The Man said he wanted something spicy, to which I mused aloud how I've noticed that people who tend to say, "Oh, that's spicy!" in response to eating something hot usually don't have a high tolerance for capsaicin heat.

To which The Man responded, "OK. Make something HOT."

So I did. :P

Hotter Than It Looks Thai-Inspired Curry Base
Serves 4 with about 1 pound of protein and 1 pound of veg added, served with steamed rice

*Caveat: For most people, this recipe will be unbearably HOT. You can easily turn down the heat by reducing the chilies. If you've a mild palate, start out with one fresh chili - maybe even a milder one like jalapeno - seeded and deveined and 1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes

I was originally going to write this up as a complete recipe including the proteins and veg (which I do outline for you further down this post), but I realized this morning that this makes a good and adaptable base to which you can add whatever proteins and veg you fancy.

Add 4 or 5 cups of unsalted chicken, seafood or veg stock, increase the salt and lime to taste, and you'll have a delicious soup!

- 1/4 yellow onion, finely minced
- 1/4 cup very finely chopped cilantro and/or basil (This is a great use for all those stems!)
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 3 serrano chilies, finely minced (seeds, veins and all) Thai bird chilies would be great, of course, but I had serranos. Chiles de arbol would also work well here.
- 1 Tablespoon crushed red chili flakes (Crushed red chili flakes are a way to add a fairly clean and unadulterated heat to your dishes without adding too much competing or distinct chili flavor.)
- the zest of 1 lime (or 3 kaffir lime leaves - I just used the lime zest because I didn't have the leaves handy. Lemon balm is also a great sub for kaffir lime leaves. Lemongrass would also add a similarly floral citrus element.)
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder, depending on how strong a curry flavor you prefer
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 can of coconut milk (they're usually somewhere between 13 and 15 ounces)

1) In a preheated medium high pan, saute the aromatics - onion, garlic, ginger, chilies, chili flakes, and lime zest - in the 2 Tablespoons of oil until the onions are translucent. Add the curry powder, stir to incorporate, and let the curry bloom for a minute or so.

2) Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to incorporate thoroughly, turn the heat up to high, and bring the curry to an active boil for a minute.

3) Add in your protein and veg and bring the curry back up to a boil for a minute or so, turn the heat down to medium high, and let it simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until your protein is cooked through. Bite sized pieces of seafood will take no time at all (3 to 5 minutes), white meat chicken a little bit longer (5 to 7 minutes), and dark meat yet longer (7 to 10 minutes).

4) Give it a stir, adjust the seasoning if needed - a little more salt or fish sauce if you want it saltier, a little more lime juice if you like extra tang, maybe a pinch more of sugar to round out all the flavors - simmer another minute or two, and that's it! Serve with steamed rice.

For last night's curry, I added:

- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 31/40 size), lightly sauteed
- 1/2 pound button or crimini mushrooms, quartered and sauteed
- 1/2 pound snow peas, stems removed and lightly blanched and shocked if you have the time. If you don't, it's not a huge deal, but blanching and shocking does help them retain color and crunch
- 1/2 red bell pepper cut into 1/4-inch strips, sauteed
- an 8 oz can (the short one) of bamboo shoots, drained

But you can of course use whatever veg you like and have handy, following the general measurement guidelines of 1 pound of protein and 1 pound of veg for 4 servings.

You don't have to saute/blanch the protein and veg as outlined above, but I like how it helps them retain their color and texture when they simmer in the curry.

Enjoy! :)


Complete album HERE.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

MAP-Inspired Kimchi Bokkeum Bap (Kimchi Fried Rice)

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

MAP (Medium Asian Papa for those not familiar) is turning 76 next week, so I thought it a good day to transfer this post written three years ago over from the old blog. It's been a long time since he's cooked anything, but this dish always brings back good memories. :)

Though my mom did most of the cooking when we were kids, every once in a while, my dad would take to the kitchen to make one of his three signature dishes which were:

2) kimchi fried rice, and 
3) kalbi. 

Well, one of those plus a huge mess.

Of the three, I think his kimchi fried rice was my favorite. Maybe it's because I remember sitting at the bapsang with nothing but a huge wokful of fried rice and as many spoons as there were people eating, and just digging in until we were all stuffed. Definitely because it was just so damned tasty - the simple deliciousness of pork belly or bacon, and sauteed and slightly caramelized ripe kimchi, all tossed with yesterday's rice and a little bit of sugar, soy sauce and gochujang to make it even spicier.

At a very old 73 years, my dad can't cook anymore. At least not without making an even bigger mess because of his failing eyesight and compromised motor skills, or making my mom worry that he'll burn the house down from his creeping senility. Years of hard living have taken a toll on his body and mind.

It's in these moments when I realize that I probably won't have him around for much longer - at least not in any lucid state - that I realize how recipes connect us and how some day, likely sooner than I'll be ready for it, kimchi fried rice will mean even more to me, so much more, than it does today.

I think I'll make a wokful of this stuff for my dad the next time we go up to see him and see if he can't remember how he used to load up his version with too much pork belly, too much bacon, maybe a little too much sugar for anyone's good, and a fat pat of butter to make up for all those meals of his impoverished childhood that weren't nearly so delicious and indulgent.

MAP-Inspired Kimchi Fried Rice
Serves 4
Time: About 25 minutes
Printable Version

As with most fried rice recipes, stale rice works best. So the next time you have Chinese, Thai, Korean or Japanese takeout, you might want to save your leftover steamed rice to make this dish later in the week. Also, while some people like to make their kimchi fried rice with fresh kimchi, I personally like it much, MUCH, better with the ripe, sour stuff.

Start out on the lower end of the measurements and taste and adjust seasoning as you go.

- 5 or 6 cups steamed white rice (preferably a little stale)
- 2 cups chopped kimchi (in 1/2-inch strips)
- 4 to 6 strips of bacon cut in 1/2-inch strips (though if you don't have bacon around, or if you're a vegetarian, this stuff is still pretty yummy without it)
- 3 Tablespoons neutral flavored oil (not EVOO) OR 2 Tablespoons oil + 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons gochujang (if you'd like it less spicyhot, you can start with 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce instead and add more to taste)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil to finish
- 1 green onion, chopped, for garnish

1) In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Put the bacon in and render it until it looks like this:

2) Add in the kimchi and sugar and stir/sautee for a minute or two.

3) Then add in the gochujang and saute for another minute or so. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Maybe a pinch more sugar, maybe the rest of that gochujang. Remember, however salty or spicy it is at this point will be diluted a bit by all that rice. But don't go overboard with the seasoning just yet. You can always add more stuff later, but you can't take it away.

4) Add the rice and, using your spoon or spatula, make chopping motions into the rice to break it up as completely as you can so it'll get evenly seasoned.

5) If the rice is beginning to stick to your pan, turn the heat down to medium low at this point and taste one last time to adjust seasoning if necessary. Remember to cool it down to room temp by blowing on it before tasting. You can't taste the level of seasoning as accurately when the food is hot, and you might think it less salty, sweet or spicy than it really is. Adjust one last time if needed, adding a pinch more sugar if you like things on the slightly sweeter side, or a dash of soy sauce if you like it a little saltier.

6) And finally, add the toasted sesame oil, and toss in thoroughly to season the rice evenly.

If you like little crunchy bits in your fried rice, now is the time to let it sit undisturbed for another 3 or 4 minutes on the medium-low flame and let the rice on the outside toast up a bit.

Serve sprinkled with chopped green onions, and maybe even a fried egg on top if you're up for it.

Enjoy. Heartily.

I always do. :)


Friday, June 20, 2014

Dak Bulgogi (Korean Style Spicy Chicken BBQ) Kebabs

Since we are now entering grilling season, and as we're going into a weekend, I thought it a perfect time to transfer this recipe over. Hope you enjoy. :)

Dak bulgogi (DAHK BOOLgohgi), dak meaning chicken and bulgogi meaning bbq or grilled meat, is usually spicy-hot whereas the beef kind isn't. But the base of the marinade is quite similar. I like to use thigh meat because the texture, flavor and fat content holds up better to the marinade than breast meat. This recipe is specifically for kebabs, but you could certainly use whole pieces of boneless thigh meat or even the entire thigh if you like, and cooking times will of course increase.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big advocate of overnight marinating. There are very few proteins that won't get a cured texture under the saltiness of most marinades if left to sit in them too long, though fattier cuts do hold up better. The marinating point of diminishing returns is even earlier on meat that's cut kebab-size (1" to 1.5" cubes). Ideally, I would let this marinate for an hour or two at most. It won't be awful if you go longer, but the meat will begin to feel, well, hammy.

Dal Bulgogi Kebabs (Korean Style Spicy Chicken BBQ) 
Makes about 12 kebabs
Serves 4-ish

- 12 to 15 bamboo skewers soaked in water for at least an hour before they go on the grill

- 2 to 2.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into roughly 1.5-inch *cubes* (to the extent that you can cut chicken thigh meat into cubes, which is to say not really)

If you can't find the boneless, skinless meat, just get a roughly 3.5 pound tray of chicken thighs, remove the skin and trim the meat off as close to the bone as possible. I did, and made my weekly chicken stock from the scraps (only I left a little extra meat around the bone to feed Honeydew).

- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (or you could use about 1/4 teaspoon dry ginger powder)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup gochoojahng (Korean red chili paste) aka gochujang (you can substitute with sriracha - not quite the same, but you'll get a tasty result)
- 1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1.5 Tablespoons neutral oil (like vegetable, canola, grapeseed)

- 1 large onion, cut into 1" pieces for skewering and tossed with 2 teaspoonfuls of oil

1) In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the onion, making sure to incorporate all of them thoroughly.

2) Cover the bowl and set in the fridge to marinate (about 1 hour ideally, and not more than 2). Remember to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you're ready to grill.

If you're using a charcoal grill, start your coals about 20 to 25 minutes before you want to grill. You want a gentle, medium low heat over which to cook these kebabs.

If gas, just pre-heat your grill to medium low 5 to 7 minutes before cooking.

3) Skewer your kebabs so they look like this:

6 single layers of onion with 5 roughly 1" layers of chicken skewered between them. As you've probably discovered by now, it's a little challenging to get 1" cubes of meat from chicken thighs, but you generally want a 1" thickness of meat between veg, so you might have to add odd pieces of chicken to the bigger ones to achieve this thickness.

I used only onions primarily because I think it tastes simple and delicious this way. I don't think other traditional kebab vegetables go as well with this recipe, but that's a personal preference. Oh! I do think small button mushrooms work well...

4) Over a medium low grill, cook the kebabs  about 15 minutes, covered, turning them every 5 minutes.

They should look like this close up:

A little spicy, slightly sweet yet savory and super tasty with some plain steamed rice. (Though I know some of y'all love to douse your steamed rice with soy sauce... :P)

This marinade, by the way, also works for dweji bulgogi, which is spicy Korean style pork BBQ, and is especially delicious when made with thinly sliced pork belly. I often leave the ginger out when I make that, though.

Enjoy. :)


Thursday, June 19, 2014

20 Minute Angel Hair w/ Bacon Tomato Sauce for 2

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Another transfer from the old blog. I came up with this recipe in the discomfort of third trimester pregnancy when quicker preparations were a welcomed relief from having to stand too long on my bloated feet and cankles. :P

Continuing on with my fast-er food explorations, today's lunch is angel hair pasta with this 20 minute bacon and tomato sauce made with whatever stuff I could find in the fridge and cupboards that makes sense.

20 Minute Angel Hair with Bacon Tomato Sauce
Serves 2 to 3

Time: 20 minutes
Printable Version

- 8 oz. angel hair pasta (you could also use spaghetti or spaghettini), cooked in the shallow water method (linked below)
- 1 15 oz. (or so) can tomatoes, with the liquid (I used whole because that's what I had on hand, but chopped is fine.)
- 4 strips of bacon, sliced into 1/2" strips
- 6 or 7 sprigs of parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 a medium onion, very thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you have on hand)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt to start
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1) Bring the oil to medium high heat in a saute pan and add bacon, onions, and garlic, and let them cook about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are nice and translucent.

2) Add the parsley and basil, and stir to coat with the oil already in the pan, then add in tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Stir gently a few times to evenly incorporate all ingredients, turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer, uncovered for 12 to 15 minutes while you boil the pasta.

3) Boil the pasta using the cold, shallow water method: Part 1 HEREPart 2: HERE.

4) Drain pasta, and spoon sauce on top, and there you have it - 20 Minute Angel Hair W. Bacon & Tomato Sauce!

For our side salad, I just served some spinach and arugula mix out of a bag topped with some sauteed mushrooms and dressed with a mish-mash vinaigrette from a container where I keep all the leftover unused and somewhat neutral vinaigrettes (red wine, white wine, lemon, balsamic) for a rainy and/or lazy day.

Enjoy. :)


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Teriyaki Chicken & Time To Move On

As I am transferring recipes from the old blog to the new in order to shut the old one down (I'm not deleting it altogether, but I am taking it out of the public space), I have to admit there's a tinge of sadness in closing the chapter on a thing into which I poured so much of my soul to share with so many others.

And yet I don't believe in lingering too long in the past - not in its pain, and not even in its joys or achievements. Keeping too much of the past alive, bad or good, steals resources and vitality from the present and future.

I realize that part of why I've kept it open as long as I have is that it contained moments - of personal clarity, communication, and sharing, while working through difficult issues - that I didn't want to leave behind me for fear that those kinds of moments would be hard to come by again.

But really, that's just silly thinking. This is life. There will always be relationships - with others and self - that require and deserve that kind of consideration, concern and introspection. There will always be events in my life that should be examined through a soul searching lens. And there will always be others with whom to share the experience. Because no matter how we feel at a given moment of loneliness, we are never truly alone in the place in which we find ourselves. 

If we are willing to bare our souls, there is always at least one other who will empathize and perhaps even benefit.

Tinge of sadness notwithstanding, there is an overwhelming sense of progress in this process. On the surface, it's just a change of url. More deeply, it feels like the shedding of yet another layer that stands between me and my truth. I've learned a lot about who and what I am, and, more importantly, who and what I am not, in these past four years. I feel ready to wrap up those lessons and carry them forward as part of me rather than as some writing exercise outside of myself.

So WTF does that have to do with Chicken Teriyaki?


But a few people asked me to bring this recipe forward, and it makes me so very happy that they like it well enough to. :)

Browned and crisped chicken skin over tender, juicy meat complemented by a delicate glaze of soy, ginger, onion, rice wine, and a touch of sweet - that is the magic of teriyaki chicken. Simply delicious and widely appealing, when it's done well, it takes a pretty picky omnivore to turn it down.

My preference is to grill it over a low flame, but on the day these pics were taken, some serious brewing was going down in the yard, and I didn't want to add to the mayhem. On days like that, or when I just don't feel like dealing with coals, I find the broiler an excellent workaround.

Teriyaki Chicken
Serves 4
Time: About 60 minutes

For the chicken:

- 2 pounds boneless, skin-on chicken thigh meat
- 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon rice wine, sake, or white wine
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 or 4 slices of fresh ginger (or if you don't have fresh, use 1/8 teaspoon powdered)

For the glaze:

- 1/4 cup lite soy sauce
- 2 or 3 slices fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/6 of an onion
- 1/4 cup rice wine, sake, or white wine
- 1 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons white sugar

- 1 teaspoon corn starch slurried (dissolved) in 1 Tablespoon cold water
- 1/4 cup unsalted chicken stock

1) Season the chicken with the marinade ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly to evenly incorporate. If you're planning to cook the chicken shortly, leave it out while you make your glaze. Otherwise, refrigerate until 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. I say it all the time, and I'll say it again that for the most part, most things cook better at room temp.

2) While the chicken is marinating, put all the glaze ingredients except the corn starch slurry and unsalted chicken stock in a small saucepan and bring to a very gentle boil over medium heat.

3) Once the glaze has come to a gentle boil (you should see gentle, infrequent bubbles rising to the surface and popping), add the cornstarch slurry and unsalted chicken stock, and bring back up to a very gentle boil over medium heat.


Once the glaze comes back up to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes, and cut the heat.

4) While the glaze is cooling, preheat the oven to 400F and place the chicken meat side down on a foil lined pan.

5) Roast the chicken for about 15 minutes in the 400F oven, then turn on the broiler, and place the chicken about 4 inches under the broiler to crisp up the skin another 2 minutes or so. After 1 minute, check the chicken every 15 seconds or so and take it out when it looks like this.

When you put anything sweet and fatty under the broiler, it can go from perfectly charred to burnt beyond recognition in a matter of seconds. Best to be vigilant! :)

Slice skin side down - and do it decisively so you cut through the skin - and serve with a little glaze spooned over.

On this particular day, we ate it with a little steamed white rice, some garden salad dressed with homemade Thousand Island, and a ham tamagoyaki (rolled omelette).

All together now...

Hope you enjoy. ^^


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic Oyster Sauce

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Green beans (aka String Beans aka Snap Beans) are super high in fiber and Vitamins A & C, among other nutrients. Here's a delicious and fun Asian-inspired finger food recipe that easily gets my big monsters eating half a pound of them each.

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic Oyster Sauce
Serves 4 as a side

Time: About 20 minutes
Printable Version

- 1 pound green beans, washed, dried, stems removed
- 1.5 Tablespoons oil


- 3 Tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2/3 to 1 Tablespoon honey, depending on how sweet you like your food
- 1/2 Tablespoon water
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 425F.

2) Toss the green beans with the 1.5 Tablespoons oil to thoroughly coat each green bean and spread evenly in a single layer on a half sheet pan.

3) Roast green beans for 8 minutes on middle rack of oven. While you're waiting, combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.

4) After 8 minutes, take the beans out of the oven, pour the sauce over them and gently stir to coat. Make sure to put the beans back in a single layer on the sheet pan.

5) Put the beans back on the top rack of the oven and roast another 2 to 2.5 minutes.

6) Serve beans on a platter with the remaining pan sauce drizzled on top.  Toasted sesame seeds are also a super cute and yummy garnish, but Joe and Mads aren't having any of that... YET. :)

I usually serve them up in a big bowl or platter, and we all pick 'em up with our grubby fangers and munch away, but you can totally serve them as part of a plated meal to be eaten with forks (or chopsticks).



P.S. That sauce that clings to the bottom of your dish is really yummy with steamed rice. ^^

P.P.S. Quick Tip: Sometimes it's hard measuring out thicker condiments in measuring spoons because they cling when you try to pour them out. A quick swirl of vegetable or olive oil in your measuring spoon (or cup) will make it super easy for the stuff to slide right out and you're all set for your next one!

Full cooking album HERE.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tea & Soy Sauce Braised Chicken

After throwing a large-ish, multi-course street food shindig, the last thing I want to do is write about cooking, but I haven't posted a recipe in a while, so I figure today is a good day to transfer another recipe over to the new blog. Hope you enjoy. :)

When efficiency dictates your cooking choices, creating rather than following recipes becomes the order of the day.

It's not because I'm not educated or inspired by other people's recipes - I find that reading both good and bad recipes helps me refine my food ideas. But it's more that my budget as well as the shelves in our efficient little kitchen can get rather unwieldy when you start buying a bag of this seasoning, a jar of that spice, a bunch of these greens, or a pound of that fruit in order to conform to a recipe.

Tea & Soy Sauce Braised Chicken...

So I read recipes and other food articles and eat out from time to time, not only to keep current, but to inform my palate as to what flavors and textures pulled from existing supply might make delicious sense when pulled together.

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a purist in the kitchen, but on the other hand, my ideas of fusion are fairly tame and more borne of adaptation and necessity than driven by a desire to push the culinary envelope, so to speak. When I think about it that way, I don't really do fusion as much as makedo-sion, but so long as the results taste good, it doesn't really matter to me what I call it.

This Tea & Soy Sauce Braised Chicken is a great dish for a weeknight meal or casual dinner party with its budget- and palate-friendly but subtly complex flavor profile; a short, easily subbed and somewhat fused ingredient list; and a beautiful presentation with little fuss.

Tea & Soy Sauce Braised Chicken
Serves 4
Time: About 60 minutes

This recipe goes from stovetop to oven, so you'll need either a large ovensafe pot or pan to go directly into the oven from the stove, or a pot/pan in which to sear and braise the chicken, and an oven safe dish in which to broil the skin.

You could go without the broiling step, and the dish will still be delicious, but you'll miss out on that beautifully crisped and slightly charred chicken skin that I love so well (too much, maybe).

- 2.5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons oil

- 1 inch segment of ginger root, sliced into 1/8" discs
- 1/2 large onion (brown or white), cut into 1/4" slices
- 4 or 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 to 3 Tablespoons non-flavored tea, depending on how strong the tea and how strong a tea flavor you like (I used oolong, but you could use green or black varieties)
- 1+1/4 cup water
- 1/8 cup Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

- 1 green onion, julienned (or cut in thin strips) and julienned ginger for garnish (and when I say *garnish*, I always also mean *flavor* - I am unnaturally perturbed by the idea of irrelevant and non-integral garnish.)

1) Season the chicken on both sides with the salt and pepper.

2) In a large pot/pan (this one's a 13" saute), bring the 2 Tablespoons of oil to medium high heat and brown and sear the chicken, about 3 minutes per side.

3) Put the chicken aside and saute the aromatics (onions, ginger, garlic) in the pan until the onions just begin to turn translucent.

4) Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of water, soy sauce and vinegar, making sure to scrape all the fond (the yummy bits left sticking to the pan after you sear the chicken) off the bottom, and add the tea.

5) Lower the heat to medium low, pour in the rest of the water, stir in the brown sugar, and add the chicken - SKIN SIDE DOWN - and simmer, partially covered (leaving about a half inch crack to allow steam to escape) for 20 minutes. 

Because heat builds and accumulates during the simmering process, it's a good idea to stir the chicken and check the temp once in a while to make sure it's not getting so hot that the chicken and/or sauce are burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

6) After simmering for 20 minutes, flip the chicken over, SKIN SIDE UP (this is important, as you need to give the skin some time to dry out before going under the broiler) and simmer another 20 minutes. At this point, preheat the oven to BROIL.

7) Once the chicken has simmered 40 minutes total, take it off the stove top and place it under the broiler so that the tops of the chicken are 3 to 4 inches from the heat element so the skin can char and crisp, about 2 minutes (check after about a minute and a half, and every 10 seconds thereafter - stuff can go from perfectly charred and caramelized to burnt beyond recognition very quickly under the broiler).

8) Plate with the julienned green onions and ginger sprinkled on top.

I served this with steamed jasmine rice, green beans stir-fried in a sweet, caramelized oyster sauce with some garlic, and baby bok choy stir-fried with oyster sauce, garlic and just a hint of ginger. 

A friend said this bok choy is sexy.
Oddly, I'm inclined to agree...

The kids' favorite veg in the history of ever so far...

Mads loved the braising liquid so much she had a second helping of rice just to be able to have more of it.

Me, I ate an extra serving of rice just to be able to use it as a backdrop for that gloriously charred, crisp and slightly sweet and sticky chicken skin.

It doesn't happen as often as I might like, but I love it when I come up with something approachable enough for the kids to love and just different, sophisticated and nuanced enough for me and the Man to delight in.