As Spuds has already described, the 2009 December holidays were fantastic culinary experiences. The family classics were phenomenal, and the younger generation did its best to translate "until it looks good" into as many written recipes as possible. It was also a real coming-of-age experience to surprise parents and grandparents with the quality of the recipes that we had in our back pockets. The greatest validation came when my Prussian grandmother asked for a copy of my mint pea soup recipe and Do for the soy sauce-wine reduction he'd used over sashimi for a Christmas Eve appetizer. We do okay in the cooking department.
But it sure was hard to put together menus without our recipe notes! Since our blogging had lapsed, we found ourselves straining to remember the details of our 2009 culinary successes. "What was the secret behind that amazing kimchi soup?... oh well, we'll have to scratch that idea." Not to mention that, without the blog, it became a lot more difficult to share recipes with our family.
So here's a recipe y'all should know about: Chinese Chicken Salad. It's pseudo-Asian creation from the November 2009 Food & Wine magazine, designed to satisfy cravings for Chinese flavors while still serving a light, green-centric meal. When D and I got back from the holidays, we were craving greens -- this totally did the trick. It's super flavorful, a nice blend of crunchy and smooth textures, and colorful. For folks on the Perfect Ten diet, you can make the salad Aziz-friendlier by eliminating the sugar, making your own mayonnaise (which takes 5min, really), using Low Sodium Soy Sauce, and generally cutting down on the volume of dressing. Warning: this recipe makes a huge quantity (I had to break out D's massive Le Creuset just to hold everything!).
Oh, and did I mention it takes 20-30min to make, depending on how quick your knife skills are?
Chinese Chicken Salad (serves 8-10)
1/4 mayonnaise (feel free to make your own. It's just 1 egg + olive oil)
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
1-2 Tbs Tabasco
3 Tbs sugar (can be eliminated if your diet so dictates)
1-2 garlic cloves
One 1" nub of ginger, peeled and grated.
One 2.5lb rotisserie chicken (or smaller), meat shredded
3 scallions thinly sliced
1 bunch of cilantro
1 small napa cabbage
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 cup unsalted roast peanuts, coarsely chopped
1-4 celery ribs, sliced
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections.
Thinly slice napa cabbage and romaine into ribbons. Rince, and put into very large bowl. Toss with 2 Tbs vinegar, 1 1/2 tps sugar, and 1 Tbs olive oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk mayonnaise with vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Tabasco, ginger, and garlic. Add chicken, scallions, celery, peanuts, and cilantro. Mix to coat. Add the chicken mixture to the napa cabbage mixture. Add the orange wedges. Stir and serve.