Thursday, June 2, 2011

Accidental Copy-Cat Recipe Find

The upside of cooking a boatload of barbecue chicken is that you have a lot of cooked chicken to eat through out the week. It is also the downside. Everyday for lunch this week I have eaten barbecue chicken, which I do love but I am a little tired of it. Tonight for supper I still had 3 chicken breasts that really did need to be eaten, but it just had to be formatted differently than plain rewarmed bbq chicken. So I did what I always do when I am desperate for something. I did a very scientific Google search. I think I typed in something brilliant like " recipes using leftover barbecue chicken". Feel free to call me Einstein if you like! I can flat out come up with the ideal Google search almost every time My rationalization is if I keep it as its' basest level I might not hit a homerun but at least I will be somewhere in the ball park. Supper did not have to be perfect, just something that tasted a little different from what I had been eating all week.

BINGO! After about the 3rd click I found a recipe for Thai Chicken Salad

Thai Chicken Salad

3 C. bean sprouts
2 bbq chicken breasts, cut in bite size pieces
1 clove garlic
1 red Serrano pepper
1/4 c. salted peanuts, crushed
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
fresh ginger
lemon grass - optional
lime juice
Sliced scallions
1/2 peeled and sliced cucumber
butter lettuce leaves

Seed and remove ribs from 1 small Serrano pepper. Mince garlic. Using mortar and pestle smush (technical term) them to a paste. Mince a nickle size slice of fresh ginger and add it to the mortar. Mash it into the garlic/pepper pulp. if you choose to use lemon grass cut a small amount and put it into the mixture and crush it till it is pulpy. Take the pulp and put it in a small glass bowl. Add the fish sauce and the sugar and stir till well blended. Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 of a small lime. Let it sit until all the sugar crystals are melted ( about 4 minutes) then stir again. Add the crushed peanuts to the mixture.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, in a medium size bowl toss the bean sprouts, chicken, sliced scallions ( about 2 large, including about 1/2 of the green tops) and cucumber. Add the peanut mix and toss again. Serve on a bed of butter lettuce and enjoy.

We all know by now I did not exactly follow the recipe, which I believe is merely a suggestion. My Mortar broke several years ago and I didn't replace it ( but I really do need to) so in my world that meant taking the garlic and putting it through a garlic press. I did the same to the minced pepper. It created a really nice bit of pepper garlic goo. I had no fresh ginger, but I do have a tube of ginger paste that I keep in the freezer. ( Buy it at Publix and keep it there for all ginger emergencies. Ditto for the lemon grass. I actually have about tubes of different herbs and spices. All you have to do is hold the very top of the tube in your hand for a couple of minutes and it warms enough to squirt out a small dollop ( close to 1/2 teaspoon maybe) It looks like ginger toothpaste but it is a fabulous way to always have the flavor on hand in a convenient dispersal system.

When I mixed the fish sauce and the sugar I used turbanido sugar only for 2 reasons. First I really do like the flavor best, and secondly it was the closest sugar in the cabinet. Since it has larger crystals than regular white sugar it will take a tad longer to dissolve. I added the lime juice, but again veered from the recipe slightly. I thought the fish sauce was a little stinkier than I wanted to smell when I ate so I added about a teaspoon of une plum vinegar. It added both a little sweetness and a little more acid. Whatever you do don't be tempted to add any salt. The fish sauce has more than enough salt unless you are like my dad and salt everything at the table before even tasting anything. I used the dry roasted low salt peanuts. I put them on a cutting board and smashed them with the side of a meat tenderizer. The peanuts were coarsely "chopped". I am reasonably sure if you wanted to use a knife it would not upset the peanuts at all. I was just trying to speed the process without doing something silly like getting out the food processor. I hate to dirty an appliance for just one quick use when there are so many alternatives that will accomplish the same thing.

When it was time to plate I did not use the butter lettuce, even though it is a beautiful tasty green. If I were doing this for guests I would use it, but it was just for the Hub and me so we got the iceberg leaves. Excluding the time it took to run to the store and pick up the bean sprouts, it took about 10 minutes total prop time.

After a couple of bites ( I kept thinking this tasted familiar) The Hub said it tasted like the Chicken Thai Salad at California Pizza Kitchen. He was right, except I didn't have those crunchy bits of fried noodles. We will have this again a couple of times this summer, especially since I now have an entire bottle of fish sauce ( less 1 tablespoon) to use. I think next time I will add more cucumber and some snow pea pods, just for a denser vegetable dish. If Son3 had eaten this I would not have had enough, but he opted out and had a bbq chicken/cheese quesadilla.
Now thankfully the chicken is all gone. Wonder what I can cook outrageous amounts of this weekend?

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