Here's a quick recipe for grilling on a week night. Hawaii has its own style of Chinese food, dishes like "Cake Noodle", "oyster sauce chicken", and a big favorite "Cold Ginger Chicken", were a big part of my youth. We didn't have much money, so Chinese food was something special. As I grew older, and my income larger, I enjoyed meals from now defunct places like McCully Chop Suey (the first air conditioned Chinese restaurant in Honolulu!), Hee Hing, King Tsin, and our neighborhood Chinese restaurant Kwok's. And for special occasions like weddings, there were places like Oceania, a floating Chinese restaurant.... the first place I ever had duck, there's a really funny story, perhaps someday I'll do a post. Lau Yee Chai is still around.... though we considered it very "high maka maka" (snobby) in those days, I wonder what its like now?
Anyway, waaay back when we first moved to San Diego, I was feeling, well, kinda homesick, in a food related way. Having dinner with a friend, "Howard" who has long moved back to Oahu, he mentioned the Kwai Fei Chicken at a place called Golden City, which was then located on Convoy. I couldn't wait to try it out. Over the years, Golden City has moved, the Kwai Fei Chicken has been decent on most days, and I've even gotten the chance to introduce some of my favorite food bloggers to the dish; which may be off putting to some since it's a cold chicken dish where the chicken is an off white in color....looking very pale, and to some even perhaps close to raw?
At this point, I've pretty much taken more time typing this post than it took to get my hardwood charcoal going in the chimney, so I'll stop with the digression. The point of all this is....
Now the cold ginger chicken I make from a recipe on an old index card is chicken that is blanched in hot water with star anise until barely done, carry-over cooking will finish the job, It is then brushed with sesame oil, cooled and refrigerated overnight... and has been hit and miss for me as well. I'm pretty sure that the Kwai Fei Chicken at Golden City is rubbed with five spice and salt and steamed.
Well, it's a weeknight... and even when it's not, I really don't want to be doing the blanch chicken thing....I believe I'll try the steamed soon. So....... I bought some boneless chicken legs from Marukai. Even though the meat takes a bit of work, removing excess skin, trimming off sinew and fat, etc, etc..... the skin to meat ratio is great. If you're not on a diet. All of this can be done while the charcoal is getting lit....as can making the ginger-scallion mixture, all of which I did by hand. By the time the coals were ready, so was the chicken, which had been rubbed with sea salt, white pepper, and five-spice. Oh, and this was also done:
I didn't even use the food processor. I grated the garlic and ginger, mixed in the scallion and cilantro, added the hot (not smoking) peanut oil. By that time the coals were hot, I poured the coals out, arranged them in the typical two level grilling thingy, placed the grate on the grill to heat. Came back in....by this time the oil had cooled enough to taste...I then added sea salt and white pepper to taste.....with the understanding that the flavors will become stronger over time. I put the entire thing in the the fridge to cool (actually in the freezer for a couple of minutes, then the fridge). You could do the whole sauce thing the day before.....
When the chicken was nearly done, I brushed on a coating of sesame oil......
Not quite a work of art.......but it looked, and tasted quite good.
Cold Ginger Chicken Sauce - makes about a cup plus change
2 cloves garlic finely minced
3-4 Tb ginger finely minced
1/4 cup green onion finely minced
3 Tb cilantro finely minced
1 tsp sesame oil
salt and white pepper to taste
1/2 cup peanut oil
One item on my recipe card that I did not use was MSG. I don't keep any in the house. But just in case your sauce is missing a bit of umami......
Combine first five ingredients
Heat oil until hot, but not smoking
Remove oil from heat source and let sit for 30 seconds
Pour over the ginger mixture
When the mixture is cool enough add salt and pepper to taste
Refrigerate completely before using
Now I know all you folks are really observant.......and will notice that I'm not using a whole "cup plus" of this stuff...especially since the Missus still doesn't eat chicken. Remember that I threatened to use the sauce for Char Siu Lamb Chops on chicken? Well, I bought one of those jumbo packs of chicken and actually marinated some chicken that night.
And made Char Siu Chicken Sandwiches (on yet another weeknight - you gotta love the long days!)....which actually tasted pretty good!
So what does this have to do with the cold ginger chicken sauce? Well, the Missus loves the sauce on rice.... but geeez, rice and a sandwich? Maybe for FOY (friend of yoso) "AZ", but I can't do it. So I grilled some potato slices.....real easy...microwave first, slice, brush with canola oil, salt, and grill. The potatoes are already cooked, and pretty darn hot (be careful handling), so grilling will create a nice crust. And dipped into some of this sauce.......... 'nuff said. It had the Missus seal of approval.