So it's been a few days since the last post, but I was thoroughly enjoying the leftovers I brought back from my dad's Chinese banquet he had this past weekend in Syracuse, and then I went out to one of my favorite Thai restaurants (Spice) last night. I know this is a belated celebration of the Chinese New Year, but my sister lived close to China in Taiwan for three years and she said that they celebrate for weeks on end. With that said, I decided to make a slightly non-traditional Chinese dish, which I would actually call a Middle-Eastern fusion of some sort with Chinese-flavored babaganoush (eggplant salsa in layman's terms). I adjusted the recipe afterwards for when I'd like to make it again. But nevertheless, take a look:
Sweet n' Sour Sesame Chicken with Sesame Babaganoush over Quinoa Nests & Baby Bok Choy
Makes 2 servings
1 large chicken breast
1 baby bok choy
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1/4 box of quinoa spaghetti (I used Ancient Harvest Supergrain Pasta, which is a mixture of corn and quinoa flours)
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce (*I use La Choy brand which is gluten-free)
1 tsp ginger paste (I used Spice World's ground ginger)
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce (mine's from Huy Fong Foods, Inc.)
1 tbsp teriyaki sauce (*I use San - J gluten-free version for stir-fry and marinade)
1/2 tsp ground peppercorns (if you have it available, use Szechuan peppercorns)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp natural peanutbutter (I used Trader Joe's chunky brand--it's a little oilier than other brands but it's just peanuts, I swear, no other additives...must just be the way they made it).
1 c. chopped eggplant (*you can use Chinese eggplant too if you wish)
1 medium-large yellow heirloom tomato OR 6-7 mini heirloom tomatoes chopped (I used yellow tomatoes because my sister can't handle the more acidic red tomatoes, but use whatever floats your boat!)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsbp sesame seeds
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Marinate chicken breast in a bowl for an 1-2 hours. *Note: this can be done the morning before or even the night before.
3) Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook quinoa pasta for several minutes on high until it's al dente (meaning not too soft and mushy when you try a piece like I did)
4) While pasta is cooking, combine babaganoush ingredients into a small mixing bowl and make sure you stir it thoroughly.
5) Drain cooked pasta in a colander and grease a regular sized muffin tin with Pam olive oil (I only greased 4 of them).
6) Arrange the strands of pasta carefully around the edges of the muffin cups to form 'nests' of pasta.
7) Place the tbsp sesame seeds on a cookie-sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake with quinoa cakes for about 10-15 minutes until lightly toasted.
8) Bake quinoa nests for about 20-30 minutes until tops of nest look slightly crispy--don't bake them too long or it will turn out too crunchy (you want them to be slightly crispy on top but soft on the bottom).
6) Meanwhile, heat up the EVOO in a medium-large skillet and dump in the babaganoush, cooking it on medium heat for a few minutes with a lid on top. Turn it down to a low simmer while quinoa nests bake.
7) After quinoa nests are done, take them out of the oven and set aside, leaving them inside the muffin tins until the final preparation.
8) Remove babaganoush from the skillet and set aside in a small bowl.
9) Chop chicken breast into smallish chunks (about 1/2" chunks).
10) Throw chunks of chicken with the marinade into the skillet (don't clean it--just let it cook in the leftover oil from the babaganoush) and with the lid on, cook chicken on medium-high heat for several minutes until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
11) Throw in toasted sesame seeds and stir gently before removing the chicken mixture from the heat into another small bowl to set aside.
12) Rinse off baby bok choy leaves and sautée in the skillet for several minutes until the tops of the leaves look wilted.
13) To arrange, pour the leftover marinade from the skillet onto plates, and place arrange bok-choy on one side of the 'pool'.
14) With a spoon, carefully remove 2 quinoa nests per plate and arrange next to the bok choy on the plate.
15) Spoon out 2 tbsp chicken mixture into the nests and top it with 1-2 tbsp babaganoush.
16) Serve immediately, saving the leftover babaganoush for a later treat!
Enjoy, Bon Appetit and 新年快樂! (That's 'Happy New Year' in Mandarin)