Two Years Ago: Lemon Chicken Teriyaki Rice Bowl
Did you know that there's a citrus industry in Arizona? Neither did I until I moved here. Granted, it's not anywhere near as big as in Florida, but it's wonderful to enjoy fresh lemons, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit for several months each year. I had the luxury of making this salad using fresh tangerines, but you can make it year-round using readily-available oranges from your local store. You could probably even get by using fresh orange juice out of a carton, but if you go that route I might suggest starting with a little extra juice and concentrating it down to the same half cup to compensate for the lack of zest strips in the marinade.
Anyway, back to the beginning. This is a slight twist on your normal teriyaki chicken because it includes citrus flavors in the marinade (orange or tangerine), the salad dressing (lemon), and the salad itself (mandarin oranges). It's light, refreshing and healthy. Although the chicken needs to marinate for a few hours before cooking, that part can be done in advance or even the day or two before you plan to serve the salad. You can also make the salad dressing in advance, so meal-time prep becomes a matter of slicing and assembly which makes for a quick weekday dinner.
The soy and honey in the marinade give the chicken a beautiful bronze color after it's cooked.
The sesame seeds and toasted almonds add crunch and the mandarin oranges add sweetness to the salad while a little leftover sauce brings a big pop of flavor. I think fresh pineapple chunks and/or cucumber slices would also be good and might add them the next time around. True confession: I forgot to add the almonds to the salad before I took the picture up top. The salad was good without them but they added extra crunch so try not to leave them out.
Teriyaki Citrus Chicken Salad
Note: the chicken can be marinated and grilled in advance, then refrigerated. The salad dressing may also be made in advance, so it will take just a few minutes to slice the chicken and assemble the salads.
For the marinade:
1 cup fresh orange or tangerine juice
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
4 strips orange or tangerine zest (each about 1 ½ by ½ inch)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed with the side of a knife
2 green onions, trimmed, white parts gently crushed
2 slices fresh ginger (each ¼ inch thick), peeled and gently crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
For the salad dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
For the salad:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8-10 cups mixed baby lettuces, washed and dried
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 (10.5 oz) can mandarin oranges in natural juice, drained
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
To make the marinade: place the orange or tangerine juice in a nonreactive saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil until reduced by half. Add the soy sauce, honey, zest strips, garlic, green onion whites, ginger, cinnamon stick and sesame oil. Stir, then let boil until slightly thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool, then remove the solids from the pan using a slotted spoon.
Remove any excess fat or sinews from the chicken breasts and discard. Rinse and blot dry. Gently pound the breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap until they’re an even thickness. Place in a zip-top bag and pour half of the marinade into the bag, reserving the remaining marinade to use later. Close the bag and massage the contents to evenly distribute the marinade, then place in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.
Meanwhile, make the salad dressing: combine the lemon juice, olive oil and salt in a small screw-top jar and shake to combine. Set aside.
To cook the chicken, preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Arrange the chicken pieces at an angle on the grill grates and cook for 4 minutes. The outside of the chicken should turn a deep brown in spots from the caramelizing of the sugars in the marinade but shouldn’t burn. Flip the chicken and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165d, basting each side with some of the marinade (that was reserved earlier) during the last few minutes. Total cooking time should be roughly 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken. Remove the chicken and let come to room temperature, then thinly slice at an angle.
To assemble the salads, toss the lettuces lightly with enough salad dressing to just barely coat. Divide among four plates. Sprinkle with the sliced green onions, mandarin oranges, and toasted almonds. Divide the chicken slices between the salads, arranging decoratively on top of the greens. Spoon some of the leftover marinade on top of the chicken, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.