Thursday, August 30, 2012

Asian Style Chicken Tacos


Printable version
Recently I found myself at the family campground on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do but cook and enjoy a camp fire. This may sound normal for August in Indiana, but this summer has been far from normal indeed.

Drought and record heat has dominated the spring and summer until now. A fire ban for most of June and July virtually took the fun out of camping, not to mention triple digit heat.

With the weather back to normal the family was out in force to enjoy the outdoors. I had picked up some broccoli slaw the day before and thought it would be fun to make a sweet and sour Asian inspired taco, I have a small, but efficient pantry in my camper that allows me to go Mexican, or Asian at any time.

As I was making these up I found myself enjoying the moment, like I hadn’t enjoyed in a long time. I was just cooking, no pictures or pressure to make something worthy of publishing in print or on the web. It has been a while where I have been able to let loose and cook something gourmet, just for the pleasure of it. Most of the gourmet stuff I cook I document for this blog or my print column. Everything is thought through and meticulously planned so that the photography and design or presentation of the dish is top notch - not to mention the flavor. It has to be great or generally I will not use it in print. A lot of work goes into a post like this, which I love doing.

BEHIND THIS BITE
What I realized while making the tacos was it is good to just cook sometimes, no recipes, blogs or pictures. Just me working to make the most tasty thing I can possibly make - then chowing down.

It really took me back to my days in New York during football season. I would have “tailgating” parties in my apartment, complete with indoor grill and cold beer by noon. I knew my cooking was starting to get good when women starting showing up to my football parties and tell me they could care less about the game, they were there for the food.

At the campground, I used mini corn tortillas to get more tacos out of the batch - I churned out somewhere between 20 to 25. I ate 5 myself. The family really enjoyed this one because there was no heat. Most of the time when I’m cooking outside I tend to lean toward spicy flavors, so the ones weary of the spice were pleasantly surprised.

It was such an enjoyable experience, almost therapeutic in a way. It's important to cook just because you love it every once in a while.

Eat well, cook often ...


THE RECIPE
Makes 8 to 10 tacos; 30 minute
1/2 C Broccoli slaw
1/4 C Rice vinegar
1 Tbs Ginger minced
1 Tbs Garlic minced
1/2 C Hoisin sauce
1/4 C Rice vinegar
1 Tbs Sesame oil
1 Tbs Teriyaki sauce
1 1/2 lbs. Chicken boneless
16 to 20 Corn tortillas
1 C Cilantro chopped
1/2 C Onion diced

Make slaw, sauce 
Mix together broccoli slaw and rice vinegar, season to taste, set aside. Over medium high heat in a sauce pan with a little oil, saute ginger and garlic until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add hoisin, rice vinegar, sesame oil and teriyaki, bring to a simmer and remove from heat.

Grill chicken, heat tortillas
Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Grill over medium heat until cooked through 8 to 10 minutes, turn once during cooking. Let rest at least 5 minutes then slice into chunks. While chicken rests, wrap tortillas in paper towel and microwave 1 minute.

Assemble tacos
On two corn tortillas layer chicken, sauce, cilantro, onion and broccoli slaw. Fold and serve. 





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