Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wakame Kyuri Su - Cucumber Seaweed Salad

This delightful salad comes to you via my wonderful mom-in-law, Annette who's traveled extensively and is a gifted cook, among other things. While living in Tokyo years ago, she learned to make wakame kyuri so - a simple, delicious salad of wakame seaweed and fresh cucumbers with a light, flavorful sesame dressing.

Wakame kyuri so (seaweed cucumber salad) by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I'm not normally super into seaweed so I was surprised to find that I could not stop eating it the first time she made it for us a few years back. The flavors are delicate and harmonious and the texture is this great mix of chewy and crispy that's super oishi (that's Japanese for "yummy"). It's also surprisingly easy to make and ridiculously good for you.

The ingredients are simple - cucumbers, dried wakame seaweed, rice vinegar, sesame seeds, sesame oil, sea salt and a little bit of honey or maple syrup.

Ingredients for wakame kyuri so seaweed cucumber salad by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Start by preparing the cucumbers. Slice or grate them (a mandolin would work very well here, too), then add a bunch of sea salt and toss to combine. Let them sit for a bit to draw the water out.


While you're waiting for the cukes, make the sesame dressing to give the seeds a little time to soften and soak up a little flavor. Mix the oil, vinegar, sesame seeds and honey and shake to combine. Then set it aside.

Adding the toasted sesame oil by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then it's time to soak the dried seaweed in cold water.

Soaking the dried wakame seaweed by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

It should not sit for very long (five minutes tops) or it will get soggy. Then give it a rinse in fresh water, squeeze it gently and let it drain.

Soaking the dried wakame seaweed by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Now it's time to rinse the salt out of the cucumbers and give them a few gentle squeezes to get the water out of them.

Rinsing the salt off the cucumbers by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Combine the drained seaweed with the drained cucumbers and toss with the sesame dressing. Taste it all and adjust the seasonings to your liking if need be.  Itadakimasu!

Wakame kyuri so (seaweed cucumber salad) by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Wakame Kyuri Su
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 2 medium-sized organic English cucumbers
* 1/4 cup dried wakame
* 2 Tbsps black or white sesame seeds
* 4 Tbsps organic toasted sesame oil
* 3 Tbsps organic rice vinegar
* 1 Tbsp sea salt
* 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

Directions

1. If you're using organic cucumbers (you should!) wash them well. If you're using conventional cukes, peel them, then cut off both ends and slice it thinly using a box grater or a mandolin. Put the cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle them with a tablespoon of salt and mix well - the salt will draw the water out of the cucumbers. Let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Make the dressing: combine the oil, vinegar, sesame seeds and honey and stir or shake to combine then set it aside to sit and so the sesame seeds can soften while you work on the seaweed.

3. Place the seaweed in a bowl or mixing cup and cover with several inches of cold water and let sit for 5 minutes. Don't let this go on too long or the seaweed will get soggy. Then rinse the seaweed in water and give it a gentle squeeze to wring out some of the water and let it drain.

4. Rinse the cucumbers in water to remove the salt then gently squeeze them in large handfuls to drain and let sit for a minute in a colander or sieve to drain fully. Combine the wakame with the cucumbers in a serving bowl and toss with the dressing. Taste it and adjust the seasonings, as needed. Chill for at least half an hour and serve. It will keep in the fridge for up to two days but you may want to squeeze a bit of water out of it before serving if you do so.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Scariest Thing I've Ever Written

I've put off writing this post all summer because I'm so frikking scared of it. It's that kind of nagging fear that keeps you from going back to sleep when you wake up at 4:30 AM to pee and then lie there wondering if it will ever get light out and trying to imagine how you ever thought this pillow was comfortable?! while your mind jumps from terrible scenario to terrible scenario like a monkey on a sugar high. It's so much fun that I usually just give in and go downstairs around 5:00 AM to make myself a much-needed cup of coffee. As a result, I am prone to falling asleep while singing Sweet Baby James to my son at his 8:00 PM bedtime but he's surprisingly understanding and just prods me gently me until I resume singing.

The thing that's been scaring me half to death is that I've decided to try to make writing this blog my job. There, I've said it. Deep breath...

I'm terrified that it won't work, that I'll FAIL. The roots of this fear go deep - even as a little girl I preferred not to put it all on the line, to hold back a little, because that way, if I failed, I could tell myself it was because I hadn't really tried.

I've been lucky in a lot of ways - I was a great student and a natural test-taker so getting straight A's in school was more or less a breeze. And I happened into an amazing career in my early 20's - using the web to help progressive nonprofits build movements and create change. For the past 12 years I've been surrounded by an incredible team of people who are truly passionate about their work - they're out to change the world and they work their asses off doing it. But about seven years ago, I realized that saving the world in this particular way was not my calling - I was pretty good at it and it was intellectually stimulating and I loved my co-workers (still do!) but it just didn't grab me by the heart or make my soul sing (how many New Age-y clichés can I use in one sentence?!) But I kept on doing it for another seven years for a lot of reasons, many of which were good ones but the most powerful of which was that it was safe. I'm a fairly anxious person and safety has always been important to me. But, unfortunately, safety does not equal happiness or fulfillment...

For years, many people who've had the questionable pleasure of being a party to my existential angst about work have asked me, "Well, what do you want to do?" And I've jokingly answered, "I want to get paid to write my blog," an idea that I dismissed out of hand as impractical every single time I said it. After all, I'm the primary breadwinner for our family of four and blogging is not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. But even though I've treated it as a joke, the truth is that writing this blog is what I actually want to do. I love food. I love growing it, I love cooking it, and I LOVE eating it. In a world that often feels like it's coming apart at the seams, where the toxic, 24-hour news cycle and even my Facebook feed are dominated by deeply disturbing things like the growth of ISIS and Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, growing and cooking good food is an affirmation of all that I find hopeful and nourishing (no pun intended, for once).

I also find the writing and photographing really fun and fulfilling. My very talented mom raised me and my very talented brother to view art as the pinnacle of human achievement. And although I no longer believe it's the only thing that matters, I still want creativity to be a big part of my life.

So even though I am shaking in my metaphorical boots, I'm gonna try to make it work. The worst that can happen is that I'll fail, right? Right?!?!?

But why am I telling you all of this in such a long-winded, semi-rambling manner?

  1. I need to make it official, so that I'm forced to start taking myself more seriously.
  2. I want to let you know there will be a few changes around here:
    * In the next few months, I plan to redesign the blog to make it more user-friendly and give it a long-overdue facelift. It's not 2007 anymore...
    * I will begin running ads and I may do the occasional sponsored post and get more strategic about my affiliate marketing efforts. I've never wanted to do this but, then again, if running ads and a sponsored post here and there enables me to do what I love, I think it's worth it. And hopefully, you will, too, since the result will be more recipes, better pictures and lots of new information about gardening, foraging and the like.
  3. Last but most definitely not least, I need your help! If you like this blog, will you please tell your friends and family about it? And please like it on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and sign up to get posts via email (there's a rather annoying double opt-in required, sorry!)
Since I am now emotionally exhausted from baring my soul to you, I will close with this great quote from Joseph Campbell that gave me the push I needed to finally sit down and write this post.

"I think a person who takes a job in order to live––that is to say, for the money––has turned himself into a slave. WORK begins when you don't like what you're doing. There's a wise saying: make your hobby your source of income. Then there's no such thing as work, and there's no such thing as getting tired. That's been my experience. I did just what I wanted to do. It takes a little courage at first, because who the hell wants you to do just what you want to do; they've all got a lot of plans for you. But you can make it happen. I think it's very important for a young person to have the courage to do what seems to him significant in his life, and not just take a job in order to make money. But this takes a bit of prudence and very careful planning, and may delay financial achievement and comfortable living. But the ultimate result will be very much to his pleasure."

- Joseph Campbell, An Open Life (with Michael Toms)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Grilled Coconut Kale

Life with two young kids is so chaotic that I don't actually remember sprinkling kale seeds in one of our raised garden beds this spring. But I must have because we're afloat in a sea of ragged jack kale now. It's gorgeous stuff -- wide, silvery green leaves with slender, dusky purple stems. The plants are so prolific that it's a struggle to keep up - a stark contrast to last summer when soft, green cabbage looper caterpillars would devour the plants within hours if I wasn't out there pulling them off and squishing them - an experience that I find to be equal parts gross, guilt-inducing, and thrilling - multiple times a day.

Our jack kale plants by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2014

In addition to kale salads, kale chips (stay tuned for the results of my latest experiment - I tried out eight different flavors!) and just chopping, blanching and freezing bunches of it for the winter, I was looking for some new ideas. My friend, Pat, responded to my call for kale inspiration by sharing this recipe along with a short note, "Try this--it sounds like it won't work, but it's delicious." So I tried it and, of course, he's right.

Grilled Coconut Kale by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

There is something a little weird about marinating kale in coconut milk spiked with lime juice and spices for hours and grilling it. But there's nothing strange about the pile of slightly charred greens you'll be left with at the end of the process. The kale has a remarkable flavor - smoky, rich, and complex.

It's not hard but you do need to start it earlier in the day to allow time for the marinating. First step - get yerself some kale. If you're not growing your own, lots of people around you probably are so check your local farmer's market or scan the roadside farm stands.

First kale harvest by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2014

Wash it and remove the leaves from the ribs. This is actually pretty easy and you don't even need to use a knife - in fact, it's easier if you just use your hands. Grasp the leaf in one hand and grab the rib in the other, then pull down from the bottom of the leaf to the top. You should be left with the leaf in one hand and the rib in the other.

Removing the ribs from the kale is easy by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I'd recommend not slicing the leaves since it is much easier to grill them in large pieces. Dinosaur kale may actually be the best choice for this dish since it's tougher than other varieties and can stand up to grilling a bit better.

Then make your marinade. Start by juicing a lemon.

Juicing the lemon by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Heat up the coconut milk until it softens then add the spices and the lemon juice and stir.

Creating the spiced coconut milk marinade for the kale by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Mix the kale with the marinade in a large, non-reactive bowl making sure it all gets well coated. Cover it with a big plate or a plastic bag (I'm not a fan of plastic wrap) and let it sit for four hours, turning a few times.

Marinating the kale in coconut milk, lime juice and spices by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then it's grilling time! Fire 'er up and clean your grate. Bring your tongs and a plate to put them on as it's a very quick grilling process and you won't have time to run back into the house for anything once you start.

Coconut marinated kale awaits grilling by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Once you've got a nice even medium-high heat going, lay the kale leaves on the grill for between 30-60 seconds, then turn them over and repeat with the other side. Some of mine burst into flames but I just blew them out and carried on. I think the dino kale probably can withstand slightly longer grilling (we're talking seconds here) since it is thicker and tougher.

Grilling the coconut kale by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

You'll have a pile of gorgeously charred, lightly spiced, coconut kale.

Grilled Coconut Kale by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Since I can't stomach the idea of tossing out a whole bunch of perfectly good coconut milk, I used the leftover marinade to make a delicious curried coconut basmati rice with cinnamon and currants that I've adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook and hope to post about someday soon. The curried rice went perfectly with the grilled kale and grilled ginger-lime shrimps I made.

Grilled Coconut Kale adapted from Sam Sifton's recipe for the NYTimes which was, in turn, adapted from  a dish served byVij's Restaurant in Vancouver
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
* 2 bunches of kale
* 2 cans of organic coconut milk
* 1 Tbsp sea salt
* Generous pinch of red pepper flakes
* 1 Tbsp garam masala or curry powder
* Juice of one lemon

Directions

1. Rinse the kale thoroughly (I counted no less than 19 green caterpillars in the water I used and while they're a great source of protein,  I'd rather skip eating them.) Remove the ribs from the leaves and put the ribs in the compost or set them aside to use in your next batch of homemade vegetable stock.

2. Heat the coconut milk over a low flame until it's lukewarm then pour it into a large ceramic or stainless steel bowl and add the spices and lemon juice and stir. Add the kale leaves and give everything a good stir to ensure that the leaves are evenly coated. Cover it with a plate or a plastic bag and marinate, turning a few times, for about four hours. In a large pot set over a low flame, heat the coconut milk until it is thoroughly mixed and just lukewarm.

3. Get your grill hot then clean it and turn the flame down to create a medium to high heat. Using metal tongs (or your fingers - I did some of both) lay the kale leaves on the grill in a single layer. Cook for 30-60 seconds (this will vary a bit depending on what type of kale you're using), until the leaves begin to brown at the edges and sizzle, then flip them and do the other side for another 30 seconds or so until the leaves have softened. Serve right away though the leftovers are surprisingly tasty. I chopped mine up and added them right to the curried coconut rice - delicious!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Mexican-ish Grilled Corn with Sriracha, Lime & Honey Mayo

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you already know about my love for grilled corn. It's hard not to love something that is that good and that easy. But if my usual grilled corn goes to ten, this version goes to eleven...

Mexicanish sweet corn by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

This is a riff on elote, the traditional Mexican street corn. Elote is sweet corn that is grilled in the husk, then the husk is peeled back to serve as a kind of handle and the corn is slathered in a creamy, chili-lime sauce and rolled in salty cheese. (By the way, Kenji over at Serious Eats has a great recipe for elote if you want to try it.)

But elote is kind of a lot of work, in my (lazy-assed) opinion. So I was mighty intrigued when my aunt Katy came up with this wonderful variation that has a lot of the same great flavors but happens to be a lot less labor-intensive than true elote.

Sweet corn by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

You start with however many ears of sweet corn you want - the freshest you can get. And it's the time of year when you can get it really fresh from a farmer near you so there's no reason not to.

Bi-color sweet corn by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Husk the ears and rub them with olive oil and toss them on the grill for a few minutes, turning regularly to get an even, light char on all sides.

Grilled sweet corn by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then it's time to make yer sauce. Get out the mayonnaise, sriracha, lime and honey.

Ingredients for sriracha, lime, honey mayonnaise sauce by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Zest that lime. Then juice it. In that order. I had a brain fart and forgot to zest it before I cut it in half and started juicing it - definitely harder to get that skin off at that point.  :(

Cutting the lime by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Mix in the mayo, sriracha, and honey and a pinch of salt and stir until smooth. Then slather it all over the corn. Don't be shy.

Slathering on the sriracha lime honey mayo by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then sprinkle cheese all over it!

Sprinkling the corn ears with cheese by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Take a bite. The creamy mayo, zesty lime, sweet honey, spicy sriracha and salty cheese take the sweet, slightly nutty, lightly charred, juicy corn kernels to a whole new level.

Mexicanish sweet corn by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

If you have any sriracha lime honey mayo sauce - it's great with shrimp or chicken if you wanted to make a salad or use it as a dipping sauce.

Mexican-ish Grilled Corn with Sriracha, Lime, Honey Mayonnaise
Serves 4

Ingredients

* 4 ears of sweet corn, husked
* 2 tsps olive oil
* 1/2 cup mayonnaise
* A generous squirt of sriracha - probably around 1 tsp but taste the sauce and add more if you like things spicier
* Zest & juice of one organic lime
* 1 tsp honey
* Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 1/2 cup grated cotija cheese (though you can also use grated Parmesan or Romano if you can't find cotija)

Directions

1. Preheat and clean your grill. You want a medium heat. While it's heating, rub the ears of corn with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

2. Place the ears on the grill and cook, turning with tongs every 2 minutes or so, to ensure even cooking on all sides, until lightly browned. Remove from the grill and mix up your sauce by combining the mayo, sriracha, honey, lime juice and zest and salt and pepper. Take a taste and adjust, as needed, until you're happy with the flavors.

3. Slather the corn with the sriracha mayonnaise then sprinkle it all over with the grated cheese before serving.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Garden Salad with Purslane, Cucumber, Tomatoes & Basil

I had one hell of a garden salad for lunch the other day and putting it together was almost as much fun as eating it. The succulent, lemony purslane, the clean, crunchy freshness of the cucumber, little juicy bites of concentrated sweetness from the sungold tomatoes, the rich, creamy chevre, the crisp lettuce and over it all a simple vinaigrette made with olive oil and a simply amazing maple balsamic vinegar. It's a little embarrassing but I have to admit that I'm salivating just writing this.

Tomato, purslane, cucumber salad with maple balsamic vinegar by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I walked outside with my basket, opened the sagging gate that has miraculously managed to deter the hordes of voracious, wickedly cute bunnies that live in our yard, picked a few leaves of new lettuce, yanked a cucumber off its vine, coaxed a handful of Sungold tomatoes into my palm, and plucked a few basil leaves.

Bunny by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then I looked between the rows for some purslane - a delicious, incredibly nutritious weed with succulent green leaves, reddish stems and a mild, pleasantly lemony flavor. You can read more about here in case you missed my last installment of Eat Your Weeds.

Purslane (portulaca oleracea) growing between rows in the garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I brought it all inside, rinsed it off and laid it out on a kitchen towel to dry a bit. I paused to admire its beauty for a moment, then I took this photo so you could admire it, too.

Lettuce, basil, purslane, tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then I ripped up the lettuce and basil, cut up the tomatoes and sliced the cucumbers. The cucumber was so crunchy I practically needed earplugs while I was chewing.

Slicing a fresh-picked cucumber by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I was thankful to have gotten to a few ripe tomatoes before the gangs of chipmunks who roam our yard had a chance. Most of the time, I'm too late and end up having to harvest these sadly mauled 'maters and cutting out the parts where they've been so cruelly bitten. Chipmunks are incredibly cute but I have the most intensely homicidal urges whenever I see one now.

Slicing up fresh-picked Sun Gold tomatoes by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I arranged the lettuce, basil, tomatoes, cucumbers and purslane then dropped some chunks of a soft, mild goat cheese on top of it all, sprinkled it with sea salt and did a few energetic grinds with the pepper mill. Then I drizzled it with organic olive oil and some of this amazing maple balsamic vinegar from The Tubby Olive that my mom-in-law gave us recently. It is so rich, so perfectly balanced, so flavorful that I kind of just want to guzzle it straight from the bottle.

Tubby Olive's maple balsamic vinegar by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I added a crunchy, savory rosemary and thyme olive oil torta (do you know about these tortas already? they are so good) to the plate, admired it some more and took a few more pictures. Then I sat down and devoured it all in a most unlady-like manner - lady-like has never really been my strong suit. I ended by picking the plate up and giving it the thorough licking it deserved. I am already looking forward to round two and hoping against hope that I can get to a few semi-ripe tomatoes before Alvin and the f-ing chipmunks do.

Tomato, purslane, cucumber salad with maple balsamic vinegar by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

The dressing was so simple that I don't really think I can provide a recipe - just olive oil and vinegar (more or less equal parts) topped with a little sea salt and black pepper - taste it and adjust your ratios until you're happy.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Eat Your Weeds - Purslane

If you garden at all, you're probably familiar with purslane since it's a pretty common weed. But that's just one way of looking at it. It does tend to grow all over but it's also downright tasty and ridonkulously good for you.

Purslane (portulaca oleracea) growing between rows in the garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

A succulent, low-growing plant, purslane has a mild lemony flavor with a hint of pepper and a pleasing texture that is half-chewy, half-crunchy. I like it so much that I actually planted it between the rows of my garden this summer.

Sorting purslane by Wayne Marshall via Flickr

Known as verdolaga in Spanish, semizotu in Turkish and pourpier potager in French, purslane is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and has the highest Omega-3 content of any leafy green. It's so full of goodness that Michael Pollan actually called it one of the two most nutritious foods on earth in his treatise, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Says Pollan, "Wild greens like purslane have substantially higher levels of omega-3s than most domesticated plants." His other top pick is lamb's quarters, also considered a weed.

Portulaca oleracea (purslane) by Scott Zona via Flickr

Best of all, it has a lovely taste and texture. I like to eat it in salads. Or if you feel like something even simpler, just slice up a ripe tomato, add some purslane and a little crumbled goat or feta cheese, drizzle with good olive oil and vinegar and add salt and pepper to taste. The sweet juicy tomato pairs so nicely with the crunchy, lemony purslane and the cheese adds a rich, creamy element that makes it even more addictive. MWAH - so good!

Tomato, purslane and chevre with maple balsamic vinegar by Eve Fox, The Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Purslane is very versatile - you can eat it pickled, in a chopped Middle Eastern salad, in a green salad, in tacos, with garlic, yogurt and salt, in potato salad, in a cucumber-yogurt salad, in a hearty lamb stew, in soup, and more.

To sum up, purslane is a wildly nutritious, tasty vegetable that grows like a weed. What's not to like?

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hainanese Chicken with Rice - A Fresh, Flavorful Meal

In my neverending quest to use up the cucumbers that are spilling out of our garden on a daily basis, I remembered this lovely dish that I had not made in many years. It's a variation on a one-pot meal that yields a beautiful, composed salad served with a gingery dipping sauce that is so fresh and flavorful that's rather addictive.

Hainanese chicken with rice by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

The recipe hails from the island of Hainan in the South China Sea and variations on it are also popular in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. I learned about it via a Mark Bittman column in the New York Times back in 2008.

Cucumbers from the garden by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

In addition to being a very tasty way to showcase a bunch of fresh-picked, wonderfully crunchy cucumbers, it's a lovely way to feed a crowd. It earned rave reviews when I made it for dinner recently.

Scallions by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

I love the mix of flavors - ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro - and the mix of textures - crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, tender, poached chicken.

Smashing garlic by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

The concept is simple. You start by poaching a whole chicken in a big pot of gingery, garlicky water. Then you take the bird out to cool, leaving you with a big pot of gingery, garlicky chicken stock.

Poached chicken by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Next you cut up some shallot or onion and garlic and sauté them for a few minutes before adding the rice and sautéing that for a minute or two. Then you add some of that nice, flavorful stock you've created in lieu of water.
Sauteeing basmati rice in onion and peanut oil by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

An important aside: if you have the freezer space, freeze whatever stock you have left over and use it next time you make this dish for even more flavorful chicken and rice. If you keep on doing this you'll end up with a kind of "master stock" that will really knock your socks off.

While the rice is cooking, you shred the meat. This is no small task! It took me about half an hour to pick the meat off my chicken although it was a whopper of a bird - more like a small turkey. By the end of the process, I had chicken under all my fingernails - not the most pleasant sensation. Luckily, I am washable. And I own a nailbrush.

Hainanese chicken with rice by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Then you whip up a simple but surprisingly addictive sauce of peanut oil, fresh ginger, scallions, a little rice mirin and some soy sauce. I like to do this a little bit in advance to allow some time for the flavors to meld. A note of caution to you: do not skimp on the dipping sauce! It's the key to the whole dish so you do not want to run out of it.

Adding salt to the gingery dipping sauce by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

While the flavors are meeting and greeting over in dipping sauce land, chop up those cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro.

Sungold cherry tomatoes by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Now you're ready to compose your dish. Start by mounding the rice in the center of a large platter, top it with the shredded chicken, then arrange the cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro in a sort of edible mandala. Serve your masterpiece with copious amounts of the ginger-scallion dipping sauce.

Hainanese chicken with rice by Eve Fox, the Garden of Eating, copyright 2014

Hainanese Chicken with Rice lightly adapted from the New York Times
Serves 4-8

Ingredients

* 1 whole (3- to 4-pound) chicken, trimmed of excess fat
* Several cloves smashed garlic, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* Several slices fresh ginger, plus 1 tablespoon minced ginger
* 1/2 cup peanut oil, or neutral oil, like corn or canola
* 3 shallots or a small onion, roughly chopped
* 2 cups long-grain rice (I used an organic white basmati)
* 1/2 cup minced scallions
* 2 cucumbers, sliced (peel them if they're from the supermarket but it's not necessary if they're from a farm or garden near you)
* 2 tomatoes, sliced
* Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* 2 tsps rice mirin
* 2 tsps soy or tamari sauce

Directions

1. Place the chicken in a large pot along with the smashed garlic, sliced ginger and a generous pinch of salt and cover it with water - just enough to submerge it. Cover it and bring the water to a boil then turn it down to medium and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the bird in the pot for 45 minutes to an hour, covered, or until it is cooked through. I was dealing with a rather oversized beast of a bird so I just extended all the cooking times by a bit. a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Remove the chicken from the pot, leaving the stock and let the bird cool to room temperature.

2. Make the dipping sauce using 1/4 cup peanut oil, the minced ginger, half the scallions, a large pinch of salt, the soy sauce and rice mirin. Set it aside.

3.  Put 1/4 cup peanut or other neutral oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, add the minced garlic and the shallots or onions, cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the rice (I did not wash mine and it turned out great) and cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Add 4 cups of the reserved chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

4. While the rice is cooking, shred or chop the chicken, discarding the skin. Mound the rice on a large platter and top with the chicken, then decorate with the cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Sprinkle the sesame oil over it all and serve with the dipping sauce.

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