GINGER KARASHI CHICKEN
I have a tendency to think a little too big when I start planning a recipe. As a result, I often have to winnow down to get to something manageable. Other times, I luck out and realize that I’ve actually ended up with two awesome recipes instead of one.
When I started working on this, I had a basic ‘chicken-and-rice-with-a-twist’ dish in mind. But when we tried the chicken, we (the Diversivore household, that is) realized that it would be amazing on its own as an appetizer. Basically, it’s a sweet, tangy, mustardy boneless chicken bite, and it puts a run-of-the mill chicken wing to shame. If you put out a plate of these at a party, they will be obliterated. You may notice a guest surreptitiously sneaking the plate off to another room. Make extra.
Now don’t get me wrong – the rice in the picture above is good. Scratch that, it’s phenomenal (here’s the recipe). In fact, I had to run to the computer and start working on the write up in order to force myself to stop eating it. But I digress, and I don’t want to take away from the chicken. The two dishes are spectacular together – very different, but highly complimentary – but they both stand so well on their own that I had to present them that way.
These awesome little chicken bites are a great example of the versatility of Japanese ingredients. Using nothing but good quality Japanese pantry staples and a little bit of Japanese karashi mustard (which is kind of a staple), you get something that comes together very fast and leaves you licking your fingers (and possibly the plate) with satisfaction.
Regardless of whether you’re serving this as an appetizer or main, the preparation is the same.
As I always do, I recommend using a good quality mirin and not one of the overly sweet corn syrup-based varieties. If you can’t get good mirin, use sweetened sake (check out the mirin pantry page for more on this substitution).
Ginger juice can be made by grating fresh ginger and squeezing out the juice, either by hand or with some kind of small press (garlic and citrus presses work well). If you want to extract a large quantity of juice, add ginger to a blender or food processor, then drain the juice with a fine sieve or cheesecloth bag. The juice should be an opaque yellow colour, free of any bits of skin or fiber from the root itself.
As mentioned above, these work beautifully on their own or with a simple starch, but they also partner fantastically with the Japanese lemon herb risotto shown in the picture. Believe it or not, I made both together on a weeknight, so don’t be afraid to dive in.
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