Along with basil, there is nothing so pungently satisfying as cilantro. Holding a handful of either up to your schnoz and taking a big whiff is the definition of a heady experience. Having made the decision to plant cilantro (once again) in my garden and being determined to actually use it instead of leaving it to bolt (my usual m.o.), as it seems to do overnight, the Asian/Indian theme is running rampant in the 1309 kitchen. I found the recipe below on epicurious. Seeing it needed some obvious tweaking, as usual with online recipes in the form of a bit more flavoring agents (is every recipe site afraid of alienating our weakened domestic palates? Memo to recipe writers: you should be challenging, not acquiescing to, your readers tastebuds!), I added my own touches. The result? Deliciousness attained with minimal effort. And still lots of cilantro left in the garden...stay tuned!!
You could serve this with some rice, I suppose. But it was really perfect tucked into some tender, snappy lettuce leaves fresh out of the garden. Plus that tumbler of chilly rosé you see in the pic? Most def!
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Shredded Chicken with Ginger and Cilantro
Adapted from: Gourmet Magazine/Baita Daiwei Ting, Kunming
From Gourmet: "Many of the minority peoples of Yunnan traditionally boil a chicken to show respect to their dead. Once the ceremony is finished, they shred the meat and mix it with ginger, garlic, and cilantro to make "ghost chicken." The lime in this recipe, unusual for Chinese cooking, suggests the influence of Southeast Asia, which the province borders."
Yield: Makes 2 to 4 to 6 (main course) servings
2 chicken breast halves with skin and bone (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Asian chili paste with garlic (preferably Lan Chi)
1-1/2 teaspoons red-chile oil, or to taste*
1-1/2 teaspoons Sichuan-pepper oil, or to taste**
2 teaspoons finely grated (with a rasp) peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated (with a rasp) garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh mild long red chile such as Holland
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
*To make the red chili oil: add 1 tablespoon dried crushed chilies to 1/4 cup peanut oil. Let sit for 1 hour or more before use.
**To make Sichuan-pepper oil: add teaspoons ground Sichuan peppercorns to 1/4 peanut oil. Let sit for 1 hour or more before use.
Set a steamer rack inside a wide 6- to 8-quart pot and fill bottom with water (not above rack), then bring to a boil. Arrange chicken in 1 layer in a shallow heatproof bowl small enough to fit just inside pot. Steam chicken in bowl on rack, covered with lid, until just cooked through, about 25-35 minutes. Remove bowl from pot using tongs. When chicken is cool enough to handle, coarsely shred, discarding skin and bones. Reserve liquid in bowl. Meanwhile, stir together lime juice, bean paste, red-chile oil, Sichuan-pepper oil, ginger, garlic, chile, salt, and 4 tablespoons reserved chicken liquid in a large bowl. Stir in chicken, cilantro, and salt to taste.
Cooks' note: Dish, without cilantro, can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature and stir in cilantro before serving.