Friday, December 5, 2014

Bang Bang Turkey

Last Year's Post: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Two Years Ago:  Rum Cake

I came across this recipe recently in no less than the esteemed New York Times Cooking site, and was immediately intrigued by the unusual name so I of course had to try it.  Was I glad I did!  It's completely delicious and very healthy.  It turns out Bang Bang Turkey or Chicken is Szechuan; the name refers to the technique of pounding the poultry before shredding (although here you'll use leftover turkey or chicken, no pounding required).  The poultry is served with a satay-type sauce, vegetables, and lettuce or noodles.  I adapted the recipe slightly to serve the turkey over crunchy Napa cabbage rather than lettuce and added additional garnishes of peanuts, radishes and jalapenos.

It's a great way to use up leftover shredded turkey or chicken and has a totally different flavor profile than the usual carb-laden turkey dinner. (The same reason I like to make Middle-Eastern inspired turkey and couscous after the holidays.)  The sauce is dark, complex and slightly spicy.  Although it calls for two Asian ingredients you may not have on hand - Chinese chili-bean sauce and Chinese black vinegar - there are easy substitutes you can use if you can't find them at your local store and don't want to make a trip to the Asian market.  Chinese chili-bean sauce is hot, so if you can't find it you could use a sweet or garlic bean sauce with a little hot sauce.  Be sure to add substitutions sparingly (especially hot ones) and taste before adding more. Come to think of it, that's a good idea for any hot ingredient in a recipe you haven't tried before.  For the Chinese black vinegar, use one part balsamic vinegar to one part rice vinegar to three parts water (for this recipe, that means one teaspoon of each vinegar and one tablespoon of water).  I used substitutions for both and found the sauce to be a little too spicy for my taste, so I toned it down with a little additional peanut butter and it was perfect.

The cucumber and mint help cool things down, and all the veggies add bright fresh crunch.  If you're not familiar with Napa cabbage, this is what it looks like.  It's a little more mild and delicate than normal green cabbage.

The easiest way to clean it is to shred it crosswise first, then place in a colander, rinse and let drain, shaking to get off as much water as possible.  You can also put the shredded cabbage on a clean towel and pat it dry - you just don't want watery cabbage or the sauce won't stick.

The salad is very easy to make - stir together a sauce, slice up some veggies, and assemble.

The Lawyer and I literally inhaled it, it was that good.

printable recipe
Bang Bang Turkey
Serves 4

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons Chinese chili-bean sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons Chinese black vinegar

For the salad:
6 cups shredded Napa cabbage, rinsed and drained well
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
½ English cucumber, sliced crosswise
4 radishes, sliced
4 cups cooked shredded turkey
2 green onions, sliced crosswise
½ cup coarsely chopped peanuts
1 red jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced for garnish (optional)

To prepare the sauce, combine sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons cold water and mix until smooth.  Set aside.

Divide cabbage among serving plates and top with cilantro and mint.  Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of sauce on top. Arrange cucumber and radishes around the sides of the cabbage.

In a bowl, combine turkey with 4 tablespoons of sauce and toss until evenly coated.  Mound the turkey in the middle of each salad and top with chopped peanuts, green onions and optional jalapeno slices.

Serve with any remaining sauce in a small bowl to pass at the table.

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