Asian


I have heard of panko breadcrumb before. I have heard of it on the food network, I have heard of it all over blogland. The Japanese bread crumb, made to be a breadcrumb, not made from bread that was then crumbed. Or however you would say that. However, in my neck of the woods I’m lucky to find seasame seed oil, people. Coconut milk, we’ve got, and udon noodle, and a double handful of prepackaged sauces, at least half of which are only Asian in the American sense. However, when we went to a larger city, we stopped at a specialty food store to check out their wares. We weren’t thinking specifically of panko breadcrumb at the time, but they had it there, and we picked some up.

Now, obviously it looked different. The chunks were bigger. The crumbs looked nothing like crumbs at all, they actually looked like tiny shards of bread. They were definitely crisper, with a nice bite to them even raw. However, would they be as good as regular? Different can mean bad! An experiment, then: I would “waste” some of them on plain, boring chicken strips. We knew we liked these. We were familiar with them, and we could compare them to our favorites. Also, as further control, I would make some with regular, plain breadcrumb – just in case there was something in my technique that altered the way the chicken tenders tasted.

I picked up the precut tenders from the butcher section, since they were on sale and would save me a lot of work. I came home, rinsed them (can never be too careful!) and then proceeded to dip. All of them went first into plain flour and then for a short rest. (practical purposes, 1) to wash your hands and the board, and 2) the tenders are less squishy and gross that way) Then, all of them went into milk seasoned with ginger, salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Then, finally, 1/2 of them went into the panko, and the other half went into the 75% breadcrumb/25%flour mixture I usually use in breading. normally I season in the breadcrumb mixture, but I wanted to be very sure that the exact proportions of seasoning were correct, and not somehow effected by the panko or breadcrumb dipping process. I would have put it in the first flour dip, but I had already dipped them in the flour and was letting them rest when I thought of not being able to season the breadcrumbs as per normal.

Anyway, so then I pan-fried them, 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. I served them with a peanut dipping sauce, in honor of the panko, though honey mustard was available for trial. We ended up not using it.

The panko were by far superior in crispness and they also cooked better. The plain breadcrumb variety were easy to either undercook (the breadcrumb never became crisp, not the chicken) or burn, whereas the panko very quickly came to a crisp, golden brown coating, but did not burn until well after the chicken was cooked through. Both tenders were very…well, tender, however, the panko were slightly juicier. The panko variety were also considerably less greasy in our first run.

In further tests on just the panko, I discovered that the heat must be quite high for them to cook properly, as they are very absorbent of oils at a low temperatures. This leads to a greasy, soggy coating that was quite abhorrent. Using less oil was also not an option, as then the panko breadcrumb did burn, and quickly. Use a very thin coating of oil, and keep the heat very high (350) for best results.

Yum!

Mom and Dad requested the Asian version, which was

Sesame Chicken I used whole breasts though, and cooked them covered so that they would be super tender and juicy!
Garlic Wontons
Pear and Carrot Salad
Chocolate Wontons

The recipe for the Pear and Carrot salad, as I’ve posted everything else before, is as follows:

1/3 cup sushi vinegar
2 drops soy sauce or to taste
1 healthy splash (teaspoon?) lemon juice
1 scant tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp ginger (a few shakes)
2 asian pears
shredded carrots
english walnuts

This, being a salad, is a very loose recipe. First, I julienned the pears. Asian pears are small, so I left them as long as the pear is from top to bottom, rather than cutting them in half. Do as you like.

I put in an even amount of carrots and pears. Also, I didn’t like the walnuts at all – they made my mouth feel more full of acid – but I was loudly outvoted by everyone else. Interestingly enough, the walnuts were my idea in the first place.

Anyway, the dressing is also pretty loose. Obviously, I didn’t measure when making it, but everyone adored the recipe. Start with the rice wine vinegar, add the lemon juice next, then the rest. Then taste, and add more of whatever as needed. It should be pretty tangy, as the pears are nice and sweet, but you can sweeten as necessary for your pear’s level of ripeness. Just taste one of your little strips.

Enjoy! Dad and I thought it might also go well with sushi, and he thought duck would be a good idea. What kind of duck – all kinds? I don’t know! It is very light, and would cut duck’s greasy taste.

Sunday night I made sesame chicken off the top of my head. It was pretty good!

I started by slicing chicken breasts into little fingers – half inch long strips like you always see on your lo mein or whatever. I sauteed that until it was basically done. On the side, I whisked together

1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)

Then blend in 1/3 c sesame oil while whisking. You now have something akin to a vinaigrette. I made 3x this much, and steamed some green beans with 1/3 of that. I put 1/2 of what was left (1 part) on the chicken to cook, and when that was done I put it to the side on the serving dish. Then, I took the last part of dressing and put it in the skillet the chicken had been in with 1 tablespoon of flour. I whisked this like mad until it came to a simmer and poured the sauce over the chicken.

Serve over rice.

It’s a decent show, I guess. It feels like a cross between Alton Brown and Giada in Paradise – you’re learning a lot about the food and it’s origins, and why it likely came into existence, but then, you’re in Marseilles or wherever the show happens to be – getting into situations that are unlikely at best, making out like you can talk to the owners of restaurants whenever, even if you’re not a television star.

Thankfully, however, there is no suggestion that you have to get by on $40 a day, or really, even care about going out to restaurants at all. He goes to the restaurants, talks about them and their histories, and then never actually sits down to eat. He makes food with the restaurant owner, and then moves on. I guess I’m a bit annoyed by travel shows in general, so my view is a little skewed. This is the least annoying of the lot, however, and I won’t turn the channel when it comes on – high praise, for a travel/food show. 

We had the Asian spaghetti today, as I recommended when I talked about it. Use your favorite brown sauce recipe, and pour over lo mein noodles with the meatballs. It was pretty good! I would definitely recommend this recipe, so long as you’re a fan of fusion comfort foods. Some people might want their fusion food to be fancy. Hah!

Life lately has been hectic at best. I missed not only the beloved Robert, but the amazingly hilarious Duff? What? I did manage to pull off dinner last night, and while it wasn’t 100% perfect, no new recipe ever is. I’m trying again Saturday.

We made Asian meatballs, which actually were perfect. It was the noodles we had a problem with. I wanted to make a fried noodle cake, like a cracker, but then the meatballs were left feeling very lonely and without any kind of texture. Despite the fried crunch. I think next time, I’ll do something more akin to asian spaghetti: make the noodles (buckwheat soba noodles) but not fry them, and use my brown sauce recipe for a “spaghetti” sauce.

The recipe!

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup+ breadcrumbs
1 egg
1.5 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar.

Stir everything but the meat and breadcrumbs together. Mix in meat, then crumbs, then egg. Pan fry for 3 minutes per side or until done.

They were so delicious, people. Oh my goodness! I loved the sesame oil, it really made the meatball. They were super-tender and incredibly flavorful. Tonight we’re eating subway (we’re going to a meeting and they’re buying) but I’m excited to try eating it on regular noodles with the delicious brown sauce. Despite the ethnic appeal, it’s definitely comfort food. If you’re looking for something classy, this isn’t it!

It seems I missed last night the Feasting on Asphalt I was so looking forward to. I know it will be on again, but it isn’t tonight (though the Batali vs. Liu battle is on tonight, for ye Mario Batali fans out there. Exciting, at least – I love Batali battles, and also I love it when Mario goes up against his friends. He’s such a good sport about these things, you can tell he’s actually in it for the food.

Speaking of the food, we went out to lunch this afternoon, and while the conversation was lively, the food sure wasn’t. Loads of starches and no flavor. Yuck! There were delicious cinnamon rolls though. And a pretty decent croissant. But the hash browns were bland and the bacon too thick, and underspiced.

Anyway, so tonight’s Peanut Chicken Satay – I’ll make the peanut sauce I made for the burgers, and then marinate chicken chunks in 2 tablespoons of garlic, a heaping tablespoon of coriander, 1 and a half tablespoons of brown sugar, pepper, salt, 1/2 c. soy sauce, lime juice, and 1/2 c of oil.

Marinate for a few hours, stick on skewers, grill or broil the sticks until chicken is completely done and dip in the peanut sauce.

Problematically, I work tonight, therefore I wouldn’t get to enjoy this with them. Therefore, I might withhold this particular meal until a later date when I can partake as well. But either way, that’s the menu at some point this week.

This salad, though it is, in fact, a salad, is absolutely Josh and housemate approved. So easy, too!

We use the Asian Ginger salad dressing from Archer Farms, and I love it! Cut up your chicken breasts into 1″ to 1/2″ cubes (I prefer chicken crumblies, so I go with 1/2″). This is much easier when the chicken is still mostly frozen, and it can thaw in the fridge. Put the chunks into a bowl and cover with 1/2 the bottle of dressing. Let it marinate for at least one hour, and then saute it for a few minutes until it’s done. While you’re waiting for the chicken to cook, wash out the bowl it marinated in very thoroughly, and then just stick the chicken coated in now-caramelized goo right back in the first bowl. Gotta love a dish that’s thus far only dirtied four dishes, right? Put the chicken back in the fridge.

Would you like it if that were all the dishes it dirtied? Good, ’cause that’s it. I just get the salad out of the bag for this (why make something any more complex than it needs to be? This is supposed to be fast and easy. Less than 20 minutes effort!)

Anyway, so you’ll want a bag of those chow mein Asian crunchy noodles, instead of croutons. You could add a cheese, but the Asian area isn’t exactly fond of cheese as a whole, and there aren’t any particularly “Asian” cheeses that I can think of. Sheep’s cheese is more common than anything, from what I hear, but no particular ways of preparing it are “Asian”, as it were. So you can leave the cheese off for a more authentic experience, even though it’s less like caesar salad that way.

So, assemble your salad as you like, and don’t forget about the reserved dressing. To quote Josh: “No, really, this is a good salad.”

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