Monday, May 7, 2012

Hoisin Chicken with Cucumber Salad

I love anything that involves hoisin sauce. I came across this recipe last week and really wanted to give it a try. I was in a mood for a chicken dish since I've been eating my fair share of fish lately, and this sounded like the great, semi spicy recipe.

Even though the cucumber salad is only a side dish in this recipe, it is amazing. It tastes similar to the kind of cucumber salad you can order at a Thai restaurant. The dressing makes a pretty big batch, so you can either add more cucumber or use fewer ingredients. You could probably also save it in the fridge for about a week if you wanted. I could have easily had that salad more than once a week.

The chicken in this recipe has a great spicy flavor. I used one seeded jalapeno in the sauce and found the heat to be perfect. For people who do not have a high tolerance for spicy foods, I'd suggest sticking to half a seeded jalapeno, or even less if it's a large pepper. If you have time, let the chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes, but it will still be delicious if you don't have time for this step. In the original recipe, chicken thighs are grilled direct heat, then finished off in a covered grill over indirect heat. Since I made this on a night when the weather was chilly, I cooked chicken breast strips in a wok, which was really easy. The chicken was still tender since I cooked it just until it was cooked through.

Recipe from Food Network Magazine
Serves 4

For the chicken:
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced (or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger)
1 jalapeno, seeded and stemmed
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
salt and pepper
2 pounds chicken breast, cut in strips (or skin on chicken breast if you grill the meat)

For the salad:
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher salt
1/4 cup ice cubes
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

To make the salad, heat the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Stirring often, bring ingredients to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and mix in ice cubes. In a bowl, mix together the cucumbers, onions, and dressing. Place in the fridge until you're ready to serve the meal.

For the chicken marinade, mix together the hoisin sauce, scallions, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, and vinegar in a food processor or blender. Mix until the sauce is uniform and pretty even. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place 3/4 of the sauce over the chicken. If you have time, allow to marinade for 30 minutes. If using a wok, heat your wok over medium high heat. Place the chicken strips with a bit of the sauce into the wok and cook until the chicken is just cooked. If grilling, cook over direct heat for 5 minutes, basting the chicken with the marinade. Move chicken to the cooler side of the grill, cover the grill, and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, until the meat is just cooked through. Serve with extra sauce on the side, rice, and cucumber salad.

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