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Monday, February 19, 2007

teriyaki roasted chicken a roaring success; news at 11

the teriyaki chicken we had for dinner last night was hands-down the best roasted chicken I’ve made. since I didn’t write out the actual recipe before; I’ll attempt it now, but this is an approximation. a good approximation.

teriyaki roasted chicken

1 big ol’ chicken (this one was a bit over 6 pounds)
1 batch homemade teriyaki sauce (recipe below), made the night before
3 finely sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon (more?) toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, + 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds set aside for roasting

combine teriyaki sauce with green onions, ginger, sesame oil and 1 T of the sesame seeds. marinate chicken in sauce in refrigerator for 2-6 hours, turning once midway.

preheat oven to 375° F. remove chicken from marinade and place in a lightly oiled roasting pan. pour about 1/2 cup of the teriyaki marinade over, and refrigerate the remainder of the teriyaki to glaze the chicken during roasting. roast for 30 - 40 minutes (depending on size -- 30 minutes is plenty for a 4-5 pounder; 40 minutes for a 6-pounder) then reduce heat to 300 °F and continue to roast for 40 minutes (for smaller chickens) to an hour (for the more zaftig chickens). glaze periodically with some of the reserved teriyaki sauce, and at the end of this hour, sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. increase heat to 425° F and continue roasting until skin is browned & crispy; about 15 minutes.

during the last roasting phase, take remaining teriyaki sauce and simmer for 15 minutes on the stovetop to cook thoroughly and reduce a bit.

when chicken is done and has rested, carve it and serve with the warm sauce. accompany with Japanese-style white rice (I heart good old Nishiki rice, prepared plainly with water and sea salt in the rice cooker) and veggies as desired (in this case, I glazed carrots with plain teriyaki sauce and roasted them during the last 40 minutes or so with the chicken).

teriyaki sauce

1/2 cup shoyu
1/2 cup light soy sauce (NOT low-sodium soy, but light soy sauce that you can find in the Japanese section of a good Asian market)
1 cup nigori sake
1/3 cup sugar

simmer ingredients briefly in saucepan to dissolve sugar. refrigerate to chill before using.

this recipe is deceptively simple -- and shockingly delicious. I added the aromatics (ginger, green onion and sesame) to the teriyaki because I wasn’t able to grill the chicken; if I had been grilling, I would have kept the sauce plain. it’s thinner than teriyaki sauce one buys, and you can thicken it with arrowroot or cornstarch if you want, but please keep it on the thin side. you may want it thicker on a piece of fish, or chunks of chicken on skewers, maybe, but for a roasted chicken, un-thickened was the way to go. it somehow tenderized and amplified all of the flavors in a gorgeous yet subtle way, and the finished chicken was beautiful, shiny and reddish-brown. I’ll be making this again soon.

many recipes call for mirin, but I prefer sake, especially a rich, sweet nigori sake. I used the cheap stuff, and it was absolutely great.

and in this post, you get two (two! TWO!) recipes for the price of one, since tonight, I’m cooking rice pudding. I’ve made a slight change in an old recipe of mine -- I always made this with Japanese sweet brown rice before, and this time, I'm using the white variety of the same rice. it smells divine. I always use a neuro-fuzzy-logic rice cooker to make rice and rice pudding, so I’m afraid that my instructions are specific to this piece of kitchen equipment. you could probably cook the rice in water on top of the stove, then bake it in a covered casserole in the oven for about an hour to approximate the same thing, but I wouldn’t know for sure.

sweet rice pudding

1 cup uncooked Japanese sweet rice (sometimes called mochigome or sho-chiku-bai)
water to cook

add the amount of water called for by your rice cooker. cook on the white rice cycle, and when finished, take the cooking bowl out of the cooker and cool it a bit.

2 cups whole milk, + .5 cup set aside for after cooking
cinnamon (1/2-1 teaspoon, depending on strength and how you want it to taste)
1/4 teaspoon or more salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup currants

add the milk, cinnamon, salt, maple syrup and currants to the rice in the bowl, and stir. taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. pop the bowl back into the rice cooker and set for porridge. it’s done when the little song plays! stir in the last .5 cup of milk and serve with a bit of brown sugar or more maple syrup.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

gong xi fa chai!

happy lunar new year! to celebrate Chinese new year, I’m making Japanese food. sure, that makes sense in my little world. tonight’s menu will feature:

teriyaki roasted chicken (with homemade teriyaki sauce, made from just sake, shoyu and sugar, but with a bit of chopped scallion, grated ginger and toasted sesame added since I’m not grilling and want a little added flavor)

steamed sugar snap peas

roasted carrots

steamed rice

cucumber salad (something simple with a bit of ginger, rice vinegar and sugar)

and for dessert, strawberry ice cream and delicious butter mochi! next time, I’ll try adding matcha to this recipe, which is delicious and crazy rich. I adapted it from several recipes found all over, especially the one on Zojirushi’s site:

butter mochi

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1.5 cups sugar
1 16-ounce box mochiko
2 cups milk
1 can coconut milk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

in a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, milk, coconut milk and eggs, and mix until well combined. add vanilla extract, salt, mochiko flour and baking powder, whisk until batter is fairly smooth.

pour into a prepared 9” x 13” pan and bake for approximately one hour at 350F. remove from oven and cool. serve and swoon!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

a quick note about the versatility of roast chicken and the concept of leftovers

I put it to you that there is no such thing as “leftover” roast chicken, primarily because it’s a core ingredient of my cooking these days. case in point: the two chicken dishes I made today that will feed me this week: the roast chicken variation of chirashi sushi (which needs a clever name): sushi rice, seasonings, veggies (I forgot to add the avocado earlier! oh well, next serving), pickled ginger, etc., and a quick chicken curry: sautéed scallion, carrot, ginger, deglazed with rice wine, chicken broth and coconut milk added, then some green peas and curry powder (I used S&B brand, which is a favorite of mine), plus the chicken, heated through. wonderful! and so simple. I could have easily made it more complex and perhaps next time I will, but this is truly tasty and is now cooling in the freezer, to be heated and eaten over freshly steamed rice with raita whenever I’m in the mood.

I’ve made such yummy food to eat for the next five or six days: tomato/basil soup (this is insanely easy; we used to make it at the restaurant where I cooked when I was in high school: canned crushed Italian tomatoes, half and half or heavy cream, chiffonade of fresh basil, pressed or minced garlic, a tiny bit of fennel seed to taste, heated gently -- talk about comfort food! VERY good with grilled cheese, whether you choose the American cheese variety or fontina/roasted red pepper/ciabatta grilled in olive oil), tuna salad with finely diced Braeburn apple, the aforementioned chicken dishes -- good stuff! hard to complain with this around.

I just polished off the best beef stew I’ve ever made, and it was so simple: onions, celery and carrots sautéed in butter until browned, with garlic, crushed tomatoes, chopped parsley, chuck roast, chicken stock and red wine added to cover, brought to a simmer on top of the stove then put in a 325 F over to bake for almost four hours (with a fresh infusion of parsley and garlic added midway; the beef taken out, shredded, and added back in at the end). insanely tender and nourishing, and I served it with mashed potatoes (made with my trusty potato ricer, a tool every mashed-potato-lover should have) with cream cheese and chives, sugar snap peas, pan roasted cherry tomatoes and steamed fresh spinach. that’s probably the last beef stew of this season, since I really only like it when it’s cold outside (and that will end all too soon).

so what should I cook next?

mochi, mochi, mochi!

it’s all about mochi today. for the past few weeks, I’ve been craving mochi, even since I had my favorite mochi ice cream and realized I really just wanted the mochi and could have easily left the ice cream behind. I’ve bought freshly-made mochi at some of the local Asian markets, but it’s never quite to my taste -- I prefer smooth, super-chewy Japanese-style mochi, and no one seems to make that here.

so today I made my own! I stopped by the wonderful Asahi imports and bought some mochi rice, which I promptly put away to deal with another day. too much work! I also bought some mochiko, a.k.a. glutinous rice flour, and used that to make a very simple recipe of microwave mochi. I then split the incredibly sticky dough in half and flavored the second half with green tea powder (matcha). both the plain and the green tea mochi are absolutely delicious; very chewy and smooth and yummy.

I adapted the basic microwaved mochi recipe to reduce the sugar slightly (and my finished product was still PLENTY sweet):

microwaved mochi
2 cups mochiko
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

mix together in bowl: 2 cups mochiko, 1 cup sugar. add 2 cups water and mix with a whisk until perectly smooth. cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4 minutes. take out and mix thoroughly. microwave again for 3-4 minutes more. knead for a bit on a cutting board dusted with katakuriko (potato flour) and cut into pieces. dust pieces with more katakuriko and store.

after dusting my mochi pieces, I set some of them out to gobble up today and froze the rest. why do I love this stuff so? who knows? who cares? I want to try a butter mochi recipe next, all of which look crazy decadent.

I also made a very yummy lunch salad with sushi rice (not the mochi rice!), roast chicken, scallions, cucumber and carrots, seasoned with a typical rice vinegar-sugar-salt mixture. wonderful; could have been even better with some toasted sesame seeds. next time!