15 April 2008

pan-roasted chicken with li hing mango salsa

Poor Li Hing Mui. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Apparently it's a dried plum. I've never seen it in its natural state. For all I know, it could be the by-product of slipper production deep in mainland China. Or dried lava from the ever-erupting Kilauea volcano. What you'll likely find if you venture into the dark heart of your local Asian market is a bright orange powder that's popular in Hawaii as a coating for dried fruits or candy. A quick Google search uncovers a shortbread, cakes, and li hing as accent on a cocktail. I think it's tremendous stuff. Sweet and sour and savory and really, really good on gummi bears.

But rarely is li hing found in an entree dish of any kind. Perhaps chefs of the world think the sweet-salty tang is too strong for proteins. Aloha Airlines offered a tomato-cucumber salad with ling hing mui vinaigrette from Alan Wong. And then they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and no longer operate passenger service. Coincidence? Hey Alan Wong, the next time an airline asks for a Hawaiian dish for in-flight service, man up and pair li hing with the main course.

In fact, you can take my recipe if you like! I'd tried previously to integrate li hing into a cream sauce. Um... yeah... this isn't that recipe. This one I'm actually kinda proud of.

pan-roasted chicken with li hing mango salsa

Ingredients -- 2 servings

2 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on
2 ripe mangos, cubed
2 scallions, chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tbs. li hing powder
1 tspn. cumin
1 tspn. paprika
salt and pepper
1-2 tbs. olive oil
2 cups rice (optional if you are not Asian)

12-inch oven-proof skillet
mixing bowl

Fire up the rice cooker. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Heat the skillet on medium-low heat with the olive oil.

Season the chicken breasts with the cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Place them skin-side down in the pan. It should give a slow sizzle (if not, turn the heat down). The next step after this is the most important: don't f-ing touch the chicken breasts again until we're done. If you value crispy, browned, savory, delicate, heavenly chicken skin, then we're pretty much done here -- just let the heat do its thing. Brown the skin on the stove 4-5 minutes (okay, fine you can peek, but real quick), then transfer to the oven. Pop the smashed garlic cloves into the pan. Roast for about 30-35 minutes.

While you're doing absolutely everything you can to not disturb the chicken, cube/chop/mince the mangos/scallions/shallots/garlic and combine in a bowl. Add the li hing powder and mix. You might want to add the li hing a little at a time and taste it, because a little goes a long way.
When the chicken's done (If you're paranoid about germs and whatnot, the FDA recommended internal temperature is 160-degrees), remove and let cool for a few minutes. Plate and serve.

Maybe I'll be daring enough to actually put the li hing on the chicken directly next time. But until then... huzzah li hing!

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Sounds like a wonderful way to prepare chicken!