Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Nick Nairn's Bang Bang Chicken

bang bang chicken

We bought a lot of chicken this week, and I found that I was bored with what I normally do with chicken and I really wanted to do something different with it. I initially had a craving for a lemony chicken dish and I was sure that I'd seen a nice one in the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine, but I went through all of the ones I have and couldn't find it. While I was looking I pulled out a few of my neglected cookbooks for inspiration.

I didn't find a lemon chicken recipe that was what I wanted, which was probably a good thing as I didn't have any lemons. I did have limes, quite a few limes, which were starting to get towards the end of their life. So, I asked the internet. Recipezaar had quite a few suggestions, which I was surprised about, because it was a flavour combination I'd never considered. I ended up trying this one: Grilled Mexican Lime Chicken.

It was really good. It had a mellower citrus flavour than a lemon chicken dish and it suited the soy based marinade really well. It was also really light and easy - a perfect summer dish to be served with salad or as a filling in a wrap. The only thing I would change next time is that I would brine the chicken first or use smaller cuts as it was edging on dry chicken territory. I used full chicken breasts for this and I'm not used to cooking such thick pieces of chicken - I normally slice them smaller - so that may have had something to do with it.

Tonight I found a recipe for Bang Bang Chicken in Nick Nairn's Top 100 Chicken Recipes. I liked the look of it and I was eager to try it. In the beginning of the recipe he mentions that this is a famous Sichuan dish, but I've never heard of it so I had no idea how it would turn out.

It was another easy dish - poach the chicken, mix up the dressing, give the chicken a bang, and then toss the chicken in the dressing! Simple.

I poached the chicken in water with half a chicken stock cube because I didn't have light soy sauce to put in the dressing and I was hoping this would offset any saltiness from using regular soy. I also added a splash of white wine, some peppercorns and a few bay leaves. As you can see, I like to follow a recipe. I used peanut paste rather than tahini and omitted the cayenne/chilli because I don't really like hot things. At first taste I felt that the peanut flavour was very pronounced and I thought that the next time I make this I would try a half peanut paste/half tahini mix to make the peanut a bit more subtle. However, once I added the chicken it was a really nice balance, so I think I might stick with the peanut paste only approach. I had the chicken served over a crisp garden salad. The dressing gave the chicken a lovely creamy texture. I loved it!

Bang Bang Chicken Salad
from Nick Nairn's Top 100 Chicken Recipes

450g boneless, skinless chicken breasts
chicken stock or cold water
seasonings, to taste (see method)

For the peanut dressing

3-4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter or tahini
2 tbs light soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs sake or dry sherry
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns
a good pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder
a small knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated

To serve

1 large cucumber
1/2 bunch spring onions, thinly shredded diagonally

1. Lay the chicken breasts, former skin sides up, in a shallow wide pan and cover with stock or cold water (at this stage you can add all sorts of seasonsing if you want - peppercorns, bay leaves, herbs, wine). Bring up to just under boiling point and then turn the heat down to a bare simmer. Poach the chicken breasts for 10-12 minutes depending on size. Lift them out with a slitted spoon and transfer to a plate to cool completely.

2. To make the dressing, whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

3. Scrub the cucumber under hot water to remove any waxy deposits. Chop off the ends, cut in half and scrape out the seeds. Slice as thinly as you can or cut into long shreds, cover and set aside.

4. Lay the chicken breasts on a chopping board, cover with cling film, and give them a light bash all over with a rolling prin to loosen the fibres. Pull and tear the chicken into long strips. Dump this into the dressing and toass well to coat.

5. Arrange the chicken with the cucumber on a big plate and scatter over the spring onions.

No comments:

Post a Comment