teppanyaki chicken, noodles & sesame bok choy
I spent some time in Taiwan several years ago, and lived near a great little Teppanyaki restaurant. Now, I know Teppanyaki is Japanese and Taiwan is Chinese, but the food in Taiwan is a mixture of so many influences and as far as I could tell – they are all good. My man Brian was the chef/owner of the place. Brian was there every day, therefore – so was I. This man could cook. He made a simple dish of a fried egg (sunny-side) on top of white rice with a bit of Asian BBQ sauce, it was magic. I didn’t even like fried eggs before this!
I loved this chicken dish in a way that anyone who has been a regular can understand. You go to the same restaurant and think – OK Tim, you are going to branch out and have something different today. You peruse the menu, hemming and hawing, then when it comes time to order – your mouth has a mind of its own. So you think, tomorrow is the day I branch out… I think I ate this dish 7 days in a row! Enough rambling, let’s cook!
Teppanyaki – Spicy Basil Chicken
makes 4 servings
6 chicken thighs – skin on and deboned
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic – sliced
2 thai chilli peppers (or any hot pepper you like), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons mirin (it’s a sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup fresh basil
If your butcher is a supermarket, then they probably don’t have deboned chicken thighs with the skin on. It is pretty easy to remove the bone yourself, just cut around it and don’t worry about getting every last morsel. It’s really not worth the effort for the 8 cents of meat.
Put the chicken on a plate or board, skin-side up. Salt the skin up good. Really salt it. This will draw out some of the moisture from the skin which will make it extra crispy when you fry it. These are the little steps that make a good dish into a great dish (Shannon calls it ‘extra love’, some might call it ‘neurotic perfectionism’ – my wife is awesome). Wait a couple minutes for the skin to dry out. If you have the time, put it in the fridge to really dry that skin.
While you are waiting, slice the garlic – I like big slices so they stick to the chicken really well, slice the peppers thin and chop the basil into strips (no chiffonade here, nice big strips).
Add the oil to a pan that can fit all the chicken – medium high. I usually add a little vegetable oil to my sesame oil to raise the smoke point. Sesame oil has a very low smoke point, and we want the pan rather hot. Once hot, place the chicken thighs skin side down into the pan. Let them cook for 6 or 7 minutes until they look really crispy and golden. Important note: Do not do this shirtless or naked. Oil will be splattering as the moisture leaves the thighs, be careful. You are basically cooking them 80% through, just on that one side. Then flip the chicken over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Chop your crispy chicken into bit-sized chunks.
Drain some of the fat from the chicken off and leave a tablespoon of it in the pan. Add the garlic and peppers. Cook these until they are about to turn a little golden. Add your chicken back into the pan, and then the mirin. Careful – mirin has alcohol in it (typically) and it will ignite. Don’t be scared if it does, it will be pretty – and impressive. Once the alcohol is burned off, add the soy sauce. Now toss. Turn off the heat and add most of the basil (save some for a garnish). Toss again. Alright, you are ready to plate. Enjoy!
The extent of my conversations with Brian generally consisted of “Cheers” or “Gam Bai” followed by whiskey – so I doubt he’ll be reading this blog. But if anyone goes to Yilan, Taiwan, tell Brian that I say hi (Ni Hao) and please order this dish!