Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Bittman's Kitchen, What I Grill and Why
Part 2 – Chicken Satay with Peanut Coconut Dipping Sauce, Eggpland Steaks with Miso

This is part two of a three part review of Mark Bittman's Kindle Single Bittman's Kitchen,What I Grill and Why. The first two parts will take a look at a few sample recipes, while the third will sum up our overall impressions of the offering. Read Part 1. 

Meal Plan: Chicken Satay with Peanut Coconut Dipping Sauce, Eggplant Steaks with Miso, and Coconut Rice

Chicken Satay with Peanut Coconut Dipping Sauce

This recipe was adapted from one shown to Bittman by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so it comes with pretty high expectations. The instructions here are simplified from those in the Kindle, but if you want the details, I encourage you to splurge the .99 cents for the full version.

For 4 servings
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
¼ - ½ teaspoon sriracha
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast

Combine all ingredients but the chicken in a bowl. You may need to adjust the consistency; add more coconut milk if it's too thick. Transfer half of the sauce to another bowl and set aside for dipping.

Cut the chicken into strips and mix in with the remaining sauce. Let marinade for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.

Thread onto soaked bamboo skewers and grill until lightly charred, a few minutes a side. Serve dipped in the remaining sauce.

Notes: I used thighs because they're cheaper and more flavourful. Double win! Setting aside half the sauce seems a bit much for dipping to me. I had a whole small package of about 8 thighs, but could probably have done 12-14 had I set aside a quarter or third of the sauce instead. A teaspoon of lime juice is too little, you can barely taste it given the other strong flavours. 3 would have been better.

Eggplant Steaks with Miso

A properly cooked eggplant melts in your mouth and seems to disappear in your stomach. My wife and I could easily finish off a whole large one each grilled in this manner. In this recipe, thick eggplant slices are simply grilled with a bit of oil, before being brushed with the miso sauce near the end of cooking. The recipe is a bit unclear calling for ¼ sake or white wine in the ingredients list, but mentioning mirin in the description. Since I didn't have any sake or wine I ended up using mirin and reducing the sugar/honey called for in the recipe. I also added a splash of rice wine to try and balance out the sweetness of the miso, sugar/honey and mirin. With the amounts listed in the recipe, you could easily have enough glaze for 3 eggplants, depending on how thick you slice 'em, rather the 2 medium or 1 large eggplant called for in the directions.

Coconut Rice

This is something I simplified from a few online recipes.
1 can coconut milk
2 - 2 ½ cups jasmine rice, or other high-quality long grain rice

Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water and place it into a small sauce pan with a thick bottom. Add the coconut milk. If necessary, add water so that the rice sits 1/2” (1cm) below liquid level. Bring to a boil on medium high heat.

Once the liquid has boiled off/evaporated to the same level as the rice, turn the heat to it's lowest setting, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand for an additional 5-10 minutes. Resist the urge to check on it as lifting the lid will dry out your rice.

When ready to eat, fluff the rice and serve.

About the meal

First of all, I wouldn't recommend all three of these dishes together... waaayyy too sweet. If you notice the glaze on the eggplant in the top shot, you'll notice i've kind of poured it on. Don't do this either, it's too much for the delicate eggplant flavour – sweetness overpowers everything. A light brushing is all that's needed, as I discovered when I tried this recipe out for a second time a few nights later (since I had all the extra glaze). Once I got the eggplant->glaze balance right, the dish was much more enjoyable. Similarly, the satay chicken skewers were pretty tasty if a little flat. They lacked some of the complexity that I'd normally expect from satay, but with a bit of tweaking (more or dark soy sauce, maybe some sesame oil), I definitely think you could have a winner on your hands. For some reason, I almost liked them more the next day as leftovers.

Marco Web Developer

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