A wonderful friend has just come out with her second book and I’m thrilled to be able to share one of the recipes with you. I first met Deb Samuels via email as we shared the same publisher, Tuttle Publishing. We finally got a chance to meet in person and shared a lobster dinner in Boston, which quite frankly, has to be the *best* way to meet new friends. Deb spent more than a decade in Japan, studying, eating, cooking Japanese cuisine. Now, she teaches Japanese cooking classes, writes for the Boston Globe and is the proud author of My Japanese Table book.
I’ve asked Deb to introduce the recipe, Shoko’s Sesame Chicken Salad, I thought you’d enjoy this recipe, as it’s quite different than any other chicken salad that you’ve experienced, especially with the drizzle of sizzling hot oil on cold chicken. ~Jaden
One summer day in Tokyo, deep in August, we were invited to the home of our Japanese “brother,” Shingo Oishi, his wife, Shoko, and their sons, Banri and Moro. It was only a ten-minute walk from the train station, but by the time we had arrived we had wilted from the heat. We greedily drank down ice-cold glasses of roasted barley tea, and Shoko had almost completed making a gorgeous cold chicken dish. The sliced, ginger-scented chicken lay on a bed of lightly crushed chunks of cucumbers, surrounded by skinned tomato wedges and topped with a heaping mound of chopped green onions (scallions). Shoko had saved the drama of dressing preparation for last. She filled a soup ladle with dark sesame oil and held it just above a low flame. When the oil began to bubble, she withdrew the ladle and poured it directly over the chicken. The crags in the smashed cukes held the dressing. Sizzling hot oil met cold chicken and green onions. Wow! What an appetite trigger! I like to shred the poached chicken breasts and serve the whole dish on top of a bed of shredded lettuce along with the tomatoes and cucumbers.
You can purchase Debra Samuel’s book, My Japanese Table on amazon.
Sesame Chicken Salad
Ingredients:4 cups (1 liter) water
4 slices of ginger, 1⁄4 in (6mm) thick
1 medium onion, sliced
3 boneless chicken breasts(1 lb/500g)
4-5 mini cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, unpeeled (or 1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and deseeded)
2 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
6 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
1⁄4 cup (65 ml) sesame oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup (65 ml) light soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon whole pepper- corns, lightly crushed
1) To make the Vinaigrette, mix the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and peppercorns in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for one minute and set aside.
2) Bring the water, ginger, and onion to a boil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the chicken breasts. Cook for 15 minutes.
3) Turn off the heat and let chicken sit in the hot liquid for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the stock, and when it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken with your hands. Place the chicken back into the stock in a bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to use.
4) Lightly scrape the skin of the mini or English cucumbers with a paring knife. 5 If using mini cucumbers cut them into 11⁄2 inch (3.75 cm) chunks. If you are using an English or Kirby cucum- ber cut them in half lengthwise, and then into 11⁄2 inch (3.75 cm) chunks.
5) Place a chunk of cucumber under the broad part of a kitchen knife. With your fist, hit the top of the blade once, and lightly crush the cucumber. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
6) Arrange a layer of the crushed cucumbers around a large serving platter. Remove the cold chicken from the stock and place it down the center of the platter. Surround the chicken with the tomato wedges and top it with green onions.
7) In a stainless steel ladle or small pot, heat the sesame oil over a low flame until bubbles appear, approximately one minute. Turn off the heat and pour the oil evenly over the green onions and chicken. Strain the Vinaigrette and drizzle it over the chicken and vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.