Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Asian Food Memories

Tonight, we are hosting two of my favorite people in the universe for dinner, Marc and Ozzie.  I love them.  No, I really LOVE them.  They are two of the best friends a gal can have.  They are generous and kind and, lord, are they funny.  They are helping us out for the next month by being our house-sitters, so the least I can do before I give them the keys and instructions for our cranky elder-kitty is to make them a fantastic meal.
I decided that the menu should be Asian-inspired, so in honor of that, I am going to make this amazing roasted chicken that I learned how to make from a woman named Diane in Boston.  Diane was my boss when I lived in Boston.  I was a nanny for her four children, the youngest now a high-school graduate (oy, does that make me feel old!).  Anyway, Diane is Chinese and is an amazing cook.  I learned her recipe for Soy Sauce Chicken and I’m going to share that deliciousness with you.

Also on the menu: Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Green Salad with Ginger Dressing, and homemade Green Tea Ice Cream.  Oh, yeah, it’s going to be fantastic!

Soy Sauce Chicken

1 whole chicken (4-6 pounds)
6 cloves garlic, smashed
4-6 scallions (white and green parts), roughly chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into slices
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup soy sauce (I prefer the dark Chinese soy sauce found in Asian markets, but regular old Kikkoman will do)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and pat dry chicken and place into a glass 9 x 13 inch baking dish (you can also use a roasting pan).  Stuff chicken cavity with garlic, scallions,  and ginger.  Rub the chicken with the canola oil.  Sprinkle the salt all over the chicken and then pour the soy sauce over the whole chicken as well.

Roast the chicken at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees.  Continue to roast the chicken for another 1 1/2 hours or until the juices run clear.  During this process, baste the chicken with the soy sauce and juices in the pan to get the most crispy dark skin, approximately every 20-30 minutes.  You want an internal temperature in the thigh (being careful not to hit the bone) to read 180 degrees.   Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

1 1/2-2 pounds of russet potatoes
1/3 cup whole milk (more can be added if potatoes seem a bit dry)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4 oz. sour cream
3 teaspoons of prepared wasabi paste (easily found in the Asian aisle of your supermarket); you can certainly increase the amount according to taste if you like
Salt to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into medium chunks and put into a stockpot.  Cover with cold water so that there is an additional 2 inches of water above the potatoes.  Salt your water!  If you read my last post about salting your rice water, please do the same here.  1/2 tablespoon works well for potatoes.  Cook potatoes over medium-high heat until a boil is achieved, then turn heat down to medium-low.  Boil for approximately 15 minutes.  The tip of a knife should easily pierce the potatoes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the stockpot.  Shake pan with potatoes over low heat to dry for about 30 seconds.  Turn off the heat.  Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes coarsely.  Add all the ingredients and mash the potatoes until light and fluffy.  Taste for seasoning.  If you feel it needs more salt, add more salt.  If you want more spiciness, add more wasabi paste.

Mixed Green Salad with Ginger Dressing
1 bag of prepared lettuce (whatever you prefer – I like romaine)
1 red pepper, cut into half inch pieces
Half an English cucumber, halved and sliced
1/4 of a red onion thinly sliced
1/3 bottle of ginger dressing (I have a favorite that is found with the refrigerated dressings in my produce section.  It tastes exactly like the kind you get at Japanese restaurants)

Combine lettuce, pepper, cucumber, and onion in a large bowl and toss the salad with the dressing.

Green Tea Ice Cream

* You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe.  Trust me, it’s the best appliance ever and you’ll never buy ice cream in a container again.  Cuisinart makes one for about $50. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions about how to deal with the freezer bowl.

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
5 green tea bags
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Several hours before or the night before, steep green tea bags in heated milk.  Let cool to room temperature, cover and chill milk with the tea bags in the refrigerator.
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes on low speed.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.  Turn machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened 25-30 minutes.  Either eat now or let ripen in the freezer for 2 hours.
I hope you like these recipes as much as I do.  Enjoy!

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