Friday, August 31, 2012

Char Siu Chicken with Chinese Long Beans

Technology is amazing.  I published my last two blog posts from Africa!  I drafted them before leaving on vacation and I wanted to do some editing while sitting in the Amsterdam airport on layover.  You can imagine how I felt when my blog appeard in Dutch.  Luckily, I found the language button and all was well.  It was an amazing vacation that I would highly recommend to anyone.  Luckily I had a post or two waiting when I returned as I recover from jet lag!

I have this love-hate relationship with my slow cooker.  I love the idea of slow-cooked foods but don't like everything I eat to be mushy and taste the same.  At least for me, the solution is to use the slow cooker for part of the meal and prepare part fresh (unless you're making chili or some other classic one pot meal).  In this recipe, boneless skinless chicken thighs are marinated in a Chinese barbecue sauce and then slow-cooked until they're so tender and moist that they come apart easily with a fork.  I prepared crisp-tender Chinese long beans for freshness and because they look dramatic on a plate, and served everything with white rice.

Chinese long beans are the drama queens of the green bean family.  Most recipes I reviewed tell you to cut them into smaller pieces but for me that takes away the whole point of using long beans in the first place.

I've never seen long beans in a typical grocery store but have found them at farmers markets and Asian grocery stores.  If you don't have a favorite Asian grocery store, do a little research online to find out where the highest-rated one is in your town and go have a little adventure -  they're really interesting to wander around.  I shared my favorite one with my friend John when he had two Chinese foreign exchange students living at his house for a month.  They went several times and I think he enjoyed it although he did say they needed a shopping concierge to help you figure out what all that stuff is.

Anyway, I discovered why the recipes tell you to cut the long beans before cooking when I tried to stir fry them.

It was like wrestling with an octopus.  Conventional stir fry techniques simply weren't going to happen, so I fried the one side for a minute, flipped the entire mess over and let it fry for another minute, then added a little water and jammed the lid down to let them steam until they became slightly more cooperative.  You could always cut them first or use regular green beans but that wouldn't be nearly as fun.

The marinade turns the chicken a beautiful mahogany color as it cooks and because you use low-sodium soy sauce it's not nearly as salty as you would think.  (I've said it before, Trader Joe's has the best low sodium soy sauce on the planet.)  The flavor is different than a teriyaki marinade and simply delicious.  The chicken is so tender that it shreds easily, so it would make an outstanding filling for moo shu chicken or a chicken banh mi sandwich if you shredded it and put it back into the sauce to thicken for a few minutes.

* * click here for a printable recipe * *

Char Siu Chicken with Chinese Long Beans
Serves 4-5

Note: the chicken must be marinated for at least two hours before placing in a slow cooker for 6-7 hours, so plan ahead. If you can’t find Chinese long beans you can substitute fresh green beans.

For the chicken:
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
½ teaspoon five spice powder
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs

For the Chinese long beans:
1 bunch Chinese long beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
Black and white sesame seeds

Hot cooked white rice

For the chicken, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag and seal. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Place the chicken and marinade in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, prepare white rice and Chinese long beans. For the long beans, trim the ends of the beans and cut into shorter lengths (optional). Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan or wok. Saute the beans for one minutes, then flip and sauté the other side for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1-2 tablespoons of water, then cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the beans). Uncover and let any remaining water evaporate, then add the garlic and shallot and stir fry for one minute more.

Serve the beans with white rice, chicken thighs, and sauce spooned over the chicken. Garnish the beans with sesame seeds and serve.

No comments: