Monday, March 19, 2012

soy ginger chicken & baby bok choi

Often, I dream up a dish, or a set of flavours I want to work with. It rolls around in my head for a week, I look at various different recipes - from my own cookbooks, on the internet - to gather a general idea of how other people have combined the elements I'm interested in. Then I go wild on my own. Sometimes, this doesn't work well at all, and I have another go to fix things.

Every now and then, things go perfect the first time. The soy-ginger chicken recipe I'm going to share with you today is one of those times. Colour me surprised: I have a hard time with chicken, unless it's a simple fried chicken or pot pie. (Though, I have had a hit or two in the past.) I can never get the meat thermometer in, I undercook. I'm not patient with my chicken. So when this worked out, I was thrilled.

Soy Ginger Chicken

I can't think of the last time I was this happy with chicken. It came out perfectly done, the breast was juicy and moist and the flavours were perfect. Little bit of kick from the ginger, the soy sauce didn't make things too salty, and there was plenty of lightness from the lemon.

The dominant flavours I wanted to play with here were soy sauce and minced ginger. Given how thin soy sauce is, I was concerned that I would have difficulty getting a good glaze (which is what I initially wanted) and decided to go with a marinade. If you like a sharper flavour, use more ginger than I have. Once I'd decided to go that route, the marinade flavours got a little more complex.

While I loved serving this with the baby bok choi and basmati rice, it also would have gone great with something like the spicy orange green beans. If I had marinated and cooked the chicken in chunks or strips, it would make a great component to fried rice.

Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
    • I used boneless/skinless, but that's simply my own taste
    • 6 - 8 chicken thighs would be a good substitute
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 inches fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola or peanut oil
Directions
  1. To make your marinade, in a small bowl, wisk together soy sauce, grated ginger, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest and sugar. Place chickens in a freezer bag with a watertight seal and pour the marinade over the chicken pieces. Squish things around in there a bit so that every piece of chicken is covered. Put in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. (Overnight would be perfectly acceptable.)
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm canola oil. When the pan is hot, add your chicken breasts. Discard the remaining marinade. Cook, covered for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the breasts and cook (still covered) another 5-7 minutes.
  3. Check for doneness (either by food thermometer or by cutting into the chicken - there should be no pink, only white), and serve. If not done, continue to cook, uncovered, watching carefully.
  4. Enjoy.
Mini Baby Bok Choi in Hoisin Stir Fry

I was thrilled to find mini baby bok choi at Freshco this week. Ususally there are the full sized as the normal baby bok choi, but last week there were little bitty wee ones that were so cute I knew I needed to eat them. The white parts are much softer than they are on the larger versions.

The sauce needs some tweaks, to be honest. I found that the hoisin was a little too strong on the baby bok choi but it was perfect on just a mouthful of rice. I'd probably scale back the amount I used next time.

Ingredients
  • Baby bok choi, cleaned
    • As I said, I used the mini versions (that are about as big as my thumb) - and I made 20 (which was half a package). I imagine that about 8-10 of the normal baby bok choi would be a good substitute
    • This made enough for two dinners and one lunch.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola or peanut oil
Directions
  1. In a large skillet or wok, heat canola oil over medium-high heat.
  2. In small bowl, combine hoisin, soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside.
  3. Add garlic to the skillet. Saute for about thirty seconds, until things start to smell really good.
  4. Add baby bok choi to the skillet. Saute for about 2-3 minutes. You're waiting for the green parts to begin to brighten in colour.
  5. Pour the sauce over stir fry, stir to coat evenly. Continue cooking 3-5 more minutes, until the greens just start to wilt.
    1. The best way to do this is go by the colour of the greens. I like just wilted, but some people like their greens more or less cooked. If you know how you prefer your dark leafy greens cooked, watch for that point.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles & enjoy.
I could easily see the sauted baby bok choi become a simple little lunch for myself. It's just so easy, and tasty.

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