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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Never Say Never

(New York Times)

I do not cook Asian.  In fact, my idea of Asian cooking is limited to heating up leftover Chinese food in the microwave.  I don't even like ordering in Chinese.  My view is that if I have to clean it up I may as well make it so we usually go out for Chinese.

I do not own a wok.  I have a fairly paltry collection of Asian cooking ingredients as well.  At the moment, my collection has soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and some toasted sesame oil.  As I said, I am not a wok star.  (I wasn't even going for the pun and I came up with one.  Not too shabby.)

Nonetheless, I am also all about the cold dinner this summer.  It's been about 1,000 degrees everyday recently and the thought of turning on my oven is just too much to bear.  So I've been on the lookout for tasty, low effort, cold dinners that appear as though I've slaved all day.  Hey, I have an image to maintain.

The other day there was a recipe in The New York Times  that sounded oddly appealing even though it was Asian inspired.  And the really good news was that it called for toasted sesame oil and I had some in the pantry.  If it had called for fish sauce that would have been a deal breaker because I wasn't into the idea of actually investing in a bottle of fish sauce.  What's that used for anyway?

I made this recipe for Cold Boiled Chicken a la Chinois and it was perfect for a day when just stepping outside was exhausting.  It was cool and very refreshing and had a very pleasing Asian vibe going on.  I don't know.  I may have to rethink my moratorium on the whole fish sauce thing.

Recipe:  Boiled Chicken a la Chinois
(David Tanis, New York Times, July 6, 2011)

Note:  I served this over 8 ounces of udon noodles which I tossed with salt, pepper, and a splash of toasted sesame oil.  I then piled the chicken, scallions, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, and jalapeno slices on top of udon and served it on a big platter.


4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 star anise
4 scallions, 2 whole and 2 slivered
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, optional
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
Lime wedges, for serving.


1. Season the thighs generously with salt and pepper. Put them in a pot and barely cover with cold water. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise and the two whole scallions. Bring to a gentle boil and skim any rising foam. Turn the heat to very low, cover, and cook at a bare simmer for 1 hour.

2. Transfer the thighs to a bowl to cool. Skim the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Over high heat, reduce the liquid by half, about 10 minutes, then strain it over the thighs. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

3. To serve, arrange the chicken on a platter, leaving some of the jellied broth clinging to the thighs. (Alternatively, the skin may be removed and discarded, and the meat pulled from the bone and shredded.)  Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with slivered scallions, cilantro and, if you like, jalapeño slices. Drizzle with sesame oil and surround with lime wedges.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

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