Friday, July 24, 2009

Lime-Ginger Chicken

When I first made this recipe I broiled the chicken because it wasn't quite grilling season for me (I know, there are plenty of you who grill year round, just not me), but of course now the season is in full swing. So go ahead and grill instead of broil, but consider using skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts. Thigh works a lot better on the grill because the flesh is inherently juicier. Get about 2-1/2 pounds of thigh and trim off as much of the external fat as you can (flare-ups = not good) and open up the thighs so they're flat. Just watch the cooking times: Boneless thigh will cook more quickly than breasts because the pieces are thinner.

A note on the sherry: I used sherry in this recipe because I was going for Asian flavors and dry sherry is commonly used in American versions of Chinese recipes. For a proper Chinese dish I should have used Shaoxing wine.

Shaoxing—from the province of the same name—is a rice wine (made with sticky rice) that is aged for 10 years. It's the color of pale sherry and smells a bit like it as well (though it also smells like sake, for obvious reasons). If you can get it, use it here instead of sherry. The wine will probably come in a bottle that looks a good deal like a bottle of soy sauce, but if you're shopping in a Chinatown or in a well-stocked liquor store, you may run across one of the fancier bottlings, like the cute green bottle (brandname Tediao) in the photo above.

WARNING: Just as with sherry, some Shaoxing wines sold in this country have had salt added to them so that they can be sold in grocery stores. They should, therefore, be labeled "cooking wine;" or they might have a label that says "not to be used or sold as a beverage." You'll be safe if you buy Shaoxing in a liquor store. Failing that, use sherry. The salted stuff is nasty.

Lime-Ginger Chicken
Put the chicken and marinade together in the morning and marinate in the refrigerator (turning once or twice if you think of it) until you're ready to cook.

1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)

1. In a measuring cup, combine the sherry, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and salt. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the mixture, put in a small bowl and stir in the sesame oil. Set the sesame mixture aside to use as a baste.
2. Place the chicken in a nonaluminum container large enough to hold it in a single layer. Pour the remaining marinade in the measuring cup over the chicken and turn to coat. Let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, turning once, or refrigerate to marinate longer.
3. Preheat the broiler. Place the chicken boned-side up on a broiler pan and drizzle a little of the marinade over it. Broil for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brush with the reserved sesame basting mixture. Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through but still juicy.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

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