A Labor Day celebration, like no other.
Today’s recipe is a shout out to the many hard working people who continue to persevere as we face the Covid-19 pandemic. Two people in particular are on my mind tonight. My colleagues and I are not only putting ourselves at risk every day as we work during the pandemic but we have the added challenge of dealing with a poorly developed and prematurely deployed warehouse management system. We are flying without a net as we attempt to train employees on a system we barely know and yet, we somehow find a way to maintain our “game faces” as we strive to maintain our sanity during this absurd circus.
Happy Labor Day, guys…thanks for your strength, wisdom and humor. I’m honored and humbled to be on your team.
Okay, let’s get busy… Chicken Satay Salad
I don’t remember the first time I had chicken satay but I do remember how quickly I took to it! Grilled chicken on a skewer smothered in a sweet, peanut buttery, soy sauce…wow! I don’t know how or why Indonesians got their hands on peanut butter but they won me over with this!
I’ve made chicken satay several times and I have received mixed reviews, which is a polite way of saying that it wasn’t received well. Maybe it’s the peanut butter flavor that people don’t get, I don’t know. This recipe expands on the traditional satay by adding fresh vegetables and rice noodles. The satay sauce takes a backseat to the textures and flavors that the salad and noodles bring.
For the Marinade:
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs peanut butter
1 tsp Maggi sauce (it’s like soy sauce on steroids!)
1 Tbs chopped fresh ginger
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (stems included)
2 small, fresh red chilies, chopped (jalapeño, cayenne or Thai chilis) – optional
1 clove garlic, smashed
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mash with a spoon. Crushing the ingredients is an important step because it releases the oils and flavors and produces a very potent marinade!
Marinate the chicken breasts for one hour.
While the chicken marinates, make the sauce for the noodles and prep the rice noodles.
Ingredients for the sauce:
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
2 Tbs honey
½ cup warm water
3 Tbs peanut butter
Juice of two limes
3 Tbs cooking oil (I used olive oil)
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
Add the dark soy sauce and honey to a mixing bowl. Add warm water and mix thoroughly. Add the peanut butter and mix to combine. Drizzle the oil into the mixture and whisk. Add lime juice and minced garlic and mix. Set aside.
Prepare the rice noodles:
8 oz rice noodles (Vietnamese-style rice Vermicelli noodles)
Soak the rice noodles in warm water for about 30 minutes. Strain the water and set the noodles aside. Start a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Boil the noodles for about 1 minute, or until the noodles are soft (al dente). Remove the noodles and strain. Rinse with cool water. Set the noodles aside.
Start the grill. Allow the coals to reach their peak before putting the chicken on the grill. The goal is succulent, smoked chicken, without charring the chicken. Pile the hot coals in the center of the grill and lay the chicken on the edges of the grill. Cook time will be about 40 minutes and the chicken should be turned every 10 minutes. Be patient. All good things happen in due time!
Grill the chicken until the internal temperature is at least 165°. To be honest, I rarely use a thermometer to check for doneness. I press my thumb on the chicken and when it feels firm, it’s done but, checking the temperature is a sure way to make sure the chicken is fully cooked.
While the chicken is on the grill, go back to the kitchen to chop some vegetables.
Ingredients for the salad:
1 cup fresh spinach, sliced thin
3/4 cup carrots, cut in thin strips
3 green onions, sliced in long strips
½ cup cilantro, chopped
Combine the vegetables in a bowl and set aside. While you’re at it, measure out the peanuts and set them aside.
Pull the chicken from the grill and let it rest for several minutes before slicing. Slice the chicken in ¼” slices and set aside.
Add the prepared noodles to a large mixing bowl. Heat the sauce in a pan until it begins to bubble and boil. Turn the heat off and add the sauce to the noodles. Mix until the noodles are coated.
Prepare the finished dish by adding some noodles to individual serving bowls. Top with sliced chicken and then top that with the vegetables and peanuts.
Serve at room temperature or chilled, for a refreshing summertime meal.