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Archive for February, 2009

Chicken with Peanut Sauce

The hack for this recipe came from good ol’ Betty Crocker via the web. We chose neither to skewer the chicken on kabobs nor broil it: we merely grilled the bite-sized cubes of chicken loose on our stove-top grill pan.

Oh, and we used store-bought peanut sauce. Why make a week-night meal more trouble than it has to be?

For the marinade, I chose to leave out the garlic, and we used boneless skinless chicken breasts, not the bone-in breasts recommended by the recipe. We marinated the cubed chicken for almost a full 24 hours.

Marinade:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed

The marinade has a salty-sweet savour that DH loves, and that brings out the citrus flavour in the peanut sauce. We served the peanut sauce in a small dipping bowl on the side, at room temperature. The marinade became a slightly thick, sticky teriyaki-style glaze on the grill. DH chose not to use a lot of the peanut sauce since he so loved the flavours in the marinade, and I chose to use the sauce liberally because for me, the whole adventure was just about the peanut sauce.

It takes a little bit of advance planning to prepare, because of the intense marinading, and we’re used to not deciding until midafternoon what we’re having for dinner, but it was more than worth the effort of remembering to cube and marinate the chicken the night before, and this simple, fast recipe has more than earned a place in our dinnertime rotation.

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Snappy Sushi 3

Snappy Sushi
Davis Square
Somerville, MA

Gyoza
Steamed dumplings filled with vegetables and tofu, served with a spicy sesame soy dipping sauce
Pickles (Oshinko) Roll
California Roll
Avocado, crabstick, and cucumber
Philadelphia Roll
Cream cheese and smoked salmon
Spicy Chicken Teriyaki Roll
Spicy chicken teriyaki, cucumber, green leaf and mayo
Tuna Gone Wild Roll
Torched white tuna, avocado, cucumber, radish sprouts, green leaf, ginger and wild sesame with Snappy Sushi’s special marinated yuzu flavored miso sauce

Same menu, different location. The Davis Square location is a larger space than the Newbury Street location, with a different flair for style. Instead of quick and urban, the space is calming (beautiful pale frothy green walls) and minimalist (a big sturdy light-wood table dominates the space, with a centerpiece of green glass vases filled with branches of small yellow flowers alternating with bamboo logs along the length of the table). Most of the seating is not at the sushi bar itself, but at the large family-style table. It may feel awkward at first, but the waitstaff seat diners with thoughtful consideration: parties of two kitty-corner, so they can face each other and turn away from the strangers sitting next to them; it is open but intimate all at once).

Our first rule is “No raw fish.” Not that we have any doubts about the quality of the fish the restaurant procures, but we just don’t like the texture (in point of fact, DH loves him some spicy tuna rolls, and I leave him to them). So we opted for vegetables, chicken, cooked crab, and smoked salmon. We decided we wanted to try something new without stuffing ourselves silly, and the gyoza looked tempting, so we decided to ask our friendly waiter how many dumplings were in an appetizer. The answer is 6, but our friendly waiter told us they were very light, and the dipping sauce is also very light. We told him we wanted to leave room for our sushi, and he assured us gyoza wouldn’t spoil our appetites. Was he right or what? The gyoza were light but full of flavour, so they delivered a lot of punch for being so unfilling. The spicy sesame soy dipping sauce was definitely spicy: Only a drop was necessary to enhance the flavour of the dumpling without overpowering. More than a tentative swipe across the top of the shallow sauce dish brought too much heat to the palate.

Still plenty of room left for sushi.

I think we had the pickle rolls when we went for sushi right before my wedding, I just didn’t remember. They aren’t pickles like I usually think of — you know, the super-sour deli pickles I love so much. The large-cut pickled veg are perfectly crunchy with just a twist of sweet flavour, pleasant to the palate and a refreshing change. The California roll was, you know, a perfectly respectable California roll, with just enough avocado to add flavour but not so much that the buttery texture overpowers the crab and cucumber. The proportion of textures and flavours was perfectly balanced.

In fact, I have to say that that was the theme of the meal: perfect balance of flavours and textures. This showcases the expertise and good judgment of their sushi chefs. The Philly rolls in particular struck me with their balance of salmon and cream cheese. In my opinion, Philly rolls usually don’t have enough cream cheese in them to counterbalance the taste and mouth-feel of the salmon — the fish-heavy rolls have a too-meaty texture and unfortunate fishy persona. These Philly rolls had a slightly more generous measure of cream cheese, bring tangy sweetness and creamy texture to the firm, smoky fish.

The spicy chicken teriyaki rolls, though larger than regular sushi rolls, held together well and kept to the balanced presentation of the rest of the meal: not too much mayo, not too much lettuce, not too much spice in the teriyaki. Filling and satisfactory.

The Tuna Gone Wild at this location seemed to have a sweeter, more robust flavour than the Tuna Gone Wild at the Newbury location, and this may be due to the chefs’ deft hand at achieving balance. It re-endeared me to the roll in general, re-awakening my tastebuds to the taste sensation. And I have to ask myself, not for the first time, “What does yuzu-flavoured mean?” Wikipedia states that yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit “believed to be a hybrid of sour mandarin and Ichang papeda.” The fruit’s origins are in China and Tibet, where it grows wild, and was introduced to Japan and Korea during the Tang Dynasty (roughly 618 to 907 AD), in which countries it is now highly cultivated. The flavour is sweet-tart like that of the grapefruit, with overtones of mandarin orange, and its juice is used in East Asian cuisine in much the same way that lemon juice is used in the West.

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