Fight food fatigue: Asian-inspired wrap offers new life for the omnipresent chicken breast
February 16, 2007
The boneless, skinless chicken breast is suffering some serious food fatigue.
Sure, it has a well-earned reputation as the go-to ingredient for healthy, speedy eating. And for good reason. Chicken breasts cook quickly and easily, do well with just about any flavor or seasoning, and are virtually fat-free.
But that’s part of the problem. Flip through just about any food magazine and you’ll likely be inundated by chicken breast recipes. It’s all starting to feel a bit tired on the plate.
How to freshen it up?
I started by looking at the many different chicken breast cuts now available at most grocers. Tenders, halves and thin-cut have become common. Granted, anyone could make these same cuts from regular breasts, but it’s hard to beat the ease of these.
The thin-cut appealed to me because they cook faster than a regular breast. And they’d cook even faster if I took a meat mallet to them, making them uniformly thin and tenderizing the meat so it would readily accept a marinade.
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And for that, I whipped up a speedy Asian-inspired blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh ginger and garlic. Of course, plenty of bottled marinades are similar this recipe, but tossing these ingredients in the blender took almost no effort.
For texture, I decided to bread and pan-fry the chicken. Sticking with the Asian theme, I opted for panko, or Japanese-style breadcrumbs. These are larger and crunchier than traditional breadcrumbs.
Giving the breasts a quick run through egg before breading adhered the crumbs nicely.
Once the chicken was fried and had rested a moment, I cut it into thin strips, which I arranged on a bed of baby greens in a whole-wheat wrap. Topped with sliced baby corn, scallions and a drizzle of sweet and spicy hoisin sauce, it was delicious.
Asian not your thing? It also would be easy to do a Mexican variation on this recipe. Use a purchased molé sauce for the marinade and substitute ground up tortilla chips for the panko.
Then replace the scallions and baby corn with chopped red onion and fresh cilantro, and lose the hoisin in favor of salsa.
So it really can be easy to freshen up a fatigued food.
Asian Chicken Wrap
(Start to finish: 30 minutes)
1Ú4 cup soy sauce
1Ú4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 T. grated fresh ginger
1Ú4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1Ú4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thinly sliced chicken breasts
1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
1Ú4 cup canola oil
4 large flatbread wraps
4 cups baby mixed greens
15-ounce can baby corn, drained
2 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
In a blender, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Puree until smooth. Transfer the marinade to a shallow baking dish large enough to accommodate the chicken breasts.
One at a time, place the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to gently and evenly pound the breast until uniformly thin, about 1Ú3- to 1Ú2-inch thick.
Place the chicken breasts in the dish with the marinade, turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the egg in a wide, shallow bowl and beat well with a fork. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a second bowl.
Once the chicken has marinated, dip each breast first through the egg, then through the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.
In a large, deep skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Fry the breasts, in batches if necessary, 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden crisp and cooked through. Set aside on paper towels to absorb excess oil and let the meat rest about 2 minutes.
Cut each breast into thin strips. Spread 1 cup of greens over each flatbread, then top with strips of chicken, baby corn and scallions.
Drizzle each with hoisin sauce, then roll the wraps, securing with a toothpick if needed.
Makes 4 servings.