May 7, 2009

Carrot and ginger chicken

It's hard to imagine a more unlovely food than the knobby ginger root but the one I picked up at the grocery store this week was particularly ugly - it looked like a foot with swollen toes.   It's a good thing I'm not hung up on looks 'cause I love ginger and there is no way that I would let aesthetics get in the way of a good meal. 

And what's not to love?  It is pungent and spicy, hot and refreshing, all at the same time.  I especially love its Italian name:  zenzero.

Aside from tasting great, ginger's medicinal properties are legendary and Eastern medical practitioners have used it for centuries.    I don't know anyone who doesn't reach for the ginger ale when they feel under the weather but ginger is much more than that - it is a digestive aid, an anti-oxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, an anti-nausea and is also often used to help relieve cold symptoms.

Try brewing some ginger tea next time you get a cold - steep chunks of peeled fresh ginger with lemon and honey.  It always makes me feel better and I promise you that, if nothing else, the ginger tea will for sure clear your sinuses! 

So when I saw a recipe for Chicken with Ginger in Everyday Food I knew I had to try it and I was not disappointed.

The ginger is definitely the star of the dish so if you don't like ginger give this one a pass or dial it down by using grated ginger instead of the matchsticks called for in the recipe.

Even if you are a ginger lover you will want to soak the ginger as recommended to reduce its bite, otherwise get ready to feel the burn.  

As usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit, adding carrots and sesame oil and reducing the amount of soy sauce.  Next time I think that I will also add sesame seeds.  

I served this over Asian noodles but it would also be great over rice.

Carrot and ginger chicken
Adapted from Everyday Food

Serves 4-6

1 tbsp canola oil
4 chicken breasts, cubed
2 inch piece of ginger cut into matchsticks
1 carrot cut into matchsticks
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 green onions, chopped

Heat canola oil over medium-high heat and saute chicken until golden brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.

While chicken is cooking, soak ginger in a bowl of cold water and prepare sauce by combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a measuring cup.  Set aside.

Drain ginger and add to pan with onions and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown.  Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add garlic.  Allow to cook for 30 seconds then stir into vegetables.

Add sauce to pan and cook until reduced.  Add chicken and stir until heated through.  Add scallions and stir.

Serve over rice or noodles.

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