Monday, August 3, 2009
SESAME CHICKEN AND ASPARAGUS WITH PEANUT SAUCE
How I wish I had a big, beautiful gas stove. It's been far too many years--in the neighborhood of 35 years--since I was able to use a wok on a gas burner. I gave my wok away quite a few years ago because there was just no good way to use it on an electric stove, particularly on a ceramic top stove. And, yes, I've already given away the electric wok I bought thinking it might be the answer. Now for someone who loves Chinese food, particularly a good stir fry, this was a telling blow. I'm not one to take a blow like that sitting down, so a number of years ago I bought myself a deep-sided skillet. While not a wok, to be sure, it allows me to make a decent enough stir fry, though you wouldn't want to have to clean the top of the stove when I'm done. I guess I still stir with the abandon of someone using a deep, slant-sided wok.
When you want to have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes and maximize flavor and healthfulness, you just can't beat a stir fry. Here is my latest incarnation--a sweet, silky sauce (and who doesn't love peanut butter) to contrast with the crunch of the asparagus.
12 oz skinless, boneless chicken thighs (substitute chicken breast, if desired)
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tbs rice vinegar
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbs toasted sesame oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup water reserved from cooking asparagus
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds and 1 chopped scallion for garnish (optional)
Pat chicken dry with paper towels and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook chicken until no longer pink, a few minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook about 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, drain asparagus and return to the pot.
Whisk the peanut butter, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, ginger, toasted sesame oil, and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water in a bowl until smooth (add more water if mixture seems too thick). Return chicken, asparagus, and peanut butter sauce to skillet, toss to combine, and heat 1 minute. Serve with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallioins over white rice.