This is the second recipe in our series of recipes for fast, healthy & most importantly tasty weeknight suppers. I find this a really satisfying dish and it is also versatile. As long as you have some chicken and the sauce you can add whatever vegetables and or carbs you have in the cupboard.
The sauce can be made in large batches and will keep in the fridge for ages. An even quicker but less healthy way to make it would be to quickly fry the chicken and add the sauce but the steaming is really good, the meat will be really juicy & soft.
I have been cooking my way through Reiko Hashimoto’s book Hashi for ages now & I love the recipes. They are often simple but with gorgeous clean flavours which I find extremely mooreish. This chicken recipe basically comes from there with a few differences in the preparation and the serving. The thing I really love about it is the sauce. I usually have some in the fridge as it is handy to have around to liven up some noodles, a salad, leftovers, even a sandwich.
In the original recipe the chicken is served with cucumber which is great for a healthy lunch. However at dinner I need something more substantial so I usually eat it with some vegetables and or noodles. Here I served it with some rice noodles dressed in soy and sesame oil & some steamed vegetables. Reiko also deep fries the chicken skin for a garnish. I am leaving this out as when you buy chicken these days they have often removed the skin (probably to sell to McDonalds to make nuggets). It does elevate the dish though so if you have some skin fry it up until crispy and sprinkle over the top at the last minute.
The chicken in Reiko’s recipe is steamed in spring onions, ginger, shitake, sesame oil and sake. I never have any sake in the cupboard (sad face) and I do not like steamed mushrooms (it’s a texture thing) so I leave them out. I use a little vermouth and water to replace the sake but use whatever you have. The chicken just needs a little moisture to steam in, just water is fine but I do recommend using the ginger & spring onions in that case.
I reckon anyone should be able to have this ready in 20-25 minutes depending on how long the chicken takes to cook. The actual hands on time is pretty minimal, a bit of chopping, stirring and tasting to get the sauce right. It is a nutritious dish with minimum fat, you can leave out the oils if you are counting calories but nut oils contain enough good stuff to make them worth it.
Steamed Chicken with Japanese Sesame Sauce
Steamed Chicken (Serves 2)
2 large squares of tin foil
2 chicken breasts
2 inches fresh ginger root
3-4 spring onions (or leek)
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vermouth & 1 tbsp water (or 2 tbsp sake)
4 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chilli paste (or 1/4 tsp cayenne)
50ml cooking juices from the chicken
1. First get the chicken cooking & then make the sauce while it is in the oven. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Lay 2 large rectangular pieces of foil over each other in a cross shape.
2. Finely shred the ginger & spring onions, you will discard these later so you don’t need to worry about the appearance. Place half of them in the middle of a piece of tin foil. Place the chicken breasts on top & the rest of the onion & ginger on top.
3. Take the top piece of foil and fold it around the chicken to make a parcel but leave one end open. Add the liquids & seal well. Use the other piece of foil to double seal the chicken, it is important that no steam escapes. Place the parcel on a baking tray & into the oven for about 20 minutes.4.To make the sauce just combine all the ingredients & heat gently to dissolve the sugar. Taste for seasoning.
5. While the chicken is cooking you can prepare your accompaniments.
6. If you have a temperature probe this is the perfect time to use it. Chicken should reach 70 degrees. I usually take it out if it is above 65 as it will continue to cook out of the oven. If you do not have a probe then you will have to check it old-school style. Remove it from the foil & discard the vegetables. Add a little of the chicken juices to the sauce which should have a texture like thick custard.