As a quick break from fancy party food I thought I’d share a look at how we cook on a regular weeknight. It’s not pretty but it tasted good. Yesterday afternoon I pulled a pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs out of the freezer with the idea of making something “asiany.” During work Mister and I emailed each other and settled on something along the lines of sesame chicken with the agreement that whoever got home first would get the chicken marinated. So I came in the door and was greeted by a ziplock bag with chunks of chicken and a mysterious brown liquid.
So after a quick quiz to Mister on what was in the marinade, I started cooking and ended up with sesame chicken with mushrooms and brocoli, served over rice with a side of tamarind-cumin coleslaw. We don’t really measure when we’re just cooking for us, so you’ll have to bear with me on the recipe. Measurements are overrated, and skipping teaspoons and tablespoons make weeknight cooking much faster. Just wing it, and it’ll still taste fine.
This is totally not authentic, it’s just a mishmash of things that taste good together and can be found at the asian grocery store or the “ethnic” aisle of any grocery store.
Serves 4 (or two, w/ leftovers)
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or other chicken pieces. Whatever you like)
- ~8 white or baby bella mushrooms – quartered (I used a mix because that’s what I had. Feel free to upgrade to shiitake or any other mushroom. Or leave them out)
- 1/2 yellow onion – sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen. Fresh would be better. Feel free to increase, this was the end of the bag for me)
- splash of white wine or rice wine
- 1-2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- sesame oil (a good splash)
- honey (a big spoonful or two)
- rice wine vinegar (or red wine, white wine, or maybe even cider vin) (lots)
- ginger (dried or fresh & grated) (maybe a teaspoonish?)
- garlic (powder or fresh and minced) (lots. we love garlic. Probably 2 Tbsp of dried. ~3 cloves fresh. adjust to your taste)
- soy sauce (lots. keep shaking)
- crushed red pepper (~1 Tbsp?)
Deskin the chicken and cut it off the bone into bite sized pieces. Set the skin aside and either chuck the bones or do what I do and throw them into a gallon sized ziplock bag in the freezer to turn into stock sometime in the future. Or skip that whole skin and bones thing and just cut up some boneless skinless chicken. Combine the marinade ingredients and pour it over the chicken pieces and let it marinate for at least and hour, or longer if you want. (in the fridge)
Lay the chicken skin in a skillet and cook on medium heat until the fat is rendered out and then discard the now crispy chicken skin (or salt it and feed it to your husband). Or just use some veggie oil. ( I like using the rendered chicken fat because I hate throwing things away) Get the oil/fat good and hot over medium high heat and then throw the mushrooms in there and don’t touch them until they are nice and brown on one side. Give them a stir and let another side get brown. Add the onions and cook them till they’re lightly browned and soft. Add the splash of wine and scrape up all the nice brown bits in the bottom of the pan. (you can use water or chicken stock if you don’t have wine handy) Reduce the heat and dump in the chicken and marinade.
Bring it to a low boil/high simmer, throw a lid on it and let it bubble away. In the meantime make some rice.
Once the chicken is cooked through taste the sauce and see if it needs adjusting. If it’s too salty, add some more honey or some brown sugar. Then mix in the broccoli and cook it just till tender. Mix the cornstarch with a splash of water in a small bowl and whisk into the chicken mixture to thicken the sauce. Simmer till the cloudiness goes away and it’s a good thickness. Mix in the sesame seeds and remove from heat.
Serve over rice.
Tamarind Coleslaw loosely adapted from He Cooks, She Cooks
I love coleslaw. Cabbage lasts forever in the fridge and it’s super cheap and filling and good for you. There are endless variations of slaw, and this is just one of them.
- 1/4 head of regular green cabbage (or napa or purple.)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (or maybe some carrots. Or some other sturdy, colorful and sweet veggie)
- 1/4 yellow onion
- 1 tsp tamarind paste (I have tamarind concentrate, but you can also find it as a block of paste that needs to soaked in water and strained)
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or shaoxing or white wine vinegar)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- big pinch salt
- couple of grinds of black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tsp olive or other oil
Finely shred the cabbage and onion using either a mandolin or a sharp knife and patience or the big slicey side of a box grater. Cut the bell pepper into matchsticks. Combine in a large bowl.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients and taste for balance. It should be tart and a little sweet and have a nice musky kick from the cumin. Pour over the veggies and toss. Eat.
It’ll keep nicely in the fridge for a several hours, maybe up to a day, but after that it’ll start to get really soggy. But I admit that I like it soggy.