July 14, 2010

Mama, I'm hungry - Sesame chicken salad with spinach, cucumber, and cilantro

I hear those words maybe five or six times a day.  While I don't always have an answer for it during the middle of the day, you can bet I usually do at dinner time.  Tonight's dinner was brought to us by Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time.  I absolutely adore him this book! 

As you know by now, we planted a successful garden for the first time this year.  Cucumbers were among our harvest today.  I still can't believe we grew a cucumber this big!  So, of course, I had to incorporate cucumbers into our dinner menu for this evening.  Okay, okay, I'm starting to ramble.....this is where Tyler Florence comes in.

Sesame Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumber, and Cilantro

Yields: 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 lb), cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide finger strips
1 ½  cups panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup sesame seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
A couple good handfuls of stemmed spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
1 cucumber, peeled, and cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
Handful fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted in a dry skillet over low heat, plus extra for garnish
Cracked black pepper

¼ cup soy sauce
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, ginger, and sugar. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Put it in another bowl large enough to hold it, pour over half of the vinaigrette and toss. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours if you have the time, or until you’ve got the rest of the dish ready to go. Set the rest of the vinaigrette aside.

When you’re ready to cook, put the panko and sesame seeds in a shallow platter and season with a little salt and pepper. Mix with your fingers so that the seasoning is incorporated and then taste it – the panko should be well seasoned. Roll the chicken pieces in the seasoned crumbs, patting gently so that the crumbs adhere, until well coated.

Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Line a platter with paper towels and set that to the side of the stove. Add about half of the chicken pieces to the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to the platter to drain. Do the same to cook the rest of the chicken. 
Put the spinach in bowl with the cucumber strips. Add the rest of the vinaigrette and the toasted sesame seeds, season with salt and pepper, and give it a good toss. To serve, divide the chicken strips between four plates. Put a handful of dressed spinach on top, shower with more toasted sesame seeds and cracked black pepper. 

Source: Tyler Florence  

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