Tonight I made myself a really great dinner. It was a relief actually. The past few weeks I’ve been a little out of my element. We’ve had houseguests, and gone out to eat more times than prudent in January. I’ve missed one of my weekly cook-ups, and neglected my meal planning. It’s also been really cold in my kitchen. That’s sort of how it goes around here – sometimes I’m floundering around at the last minute putting something together, and other times things just click.
The salad above is the result of some last minute cravings at Trader Joe’s. I’ve been eating cleanly for all of January, which means I deny myself the pleasure of samples at Trader Joe’s – other than the coffee of course. On the plus side, this means that I don’t go home with mushroom mochi potstickers instead of a balanced meal.
So this salad. It’s one of my versions of a dinner salad with general Asian flavors. I do a riff on this on a regular basis – sometimes its Indian carrot salad with lamb, sometimes it takes on a more Vietnamese twist, maybe chicken with a cucumber salad and Nước chấm. This salad is made for versatility: meat, chopped veg, fresh herbs, and a punchy dressing. At TJ’s, I picked up broccoli slaw, a cucumber, mint and basil. In the case I found myself a pack of boneless skinless chicken thighs. I do love skin, but they don’t sell bone-in with skin chicken thighs at our outpost, and while I’d make a whole chicken, I really only like dark meat – it just tastes better. When I got home, I dried off the chicken (fully drying the skin allows for tasty Maillard reaction – browning! science! – to happen), and seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Into the oiled cast iron, for six minutes on the first side. While the chicken cooked, I made my dressing: a few tablespoons of almond butter, the juice of a lime, a dash of vinegar, about a half tablespoon of Red Boat fish sauce, and some olive oil. I flipped the chicken, cooked for about four more minutes, and then let it rest off the heat while I prepped all of my salad ingredients. I chopped half of an English cucumber and added it to the bowl, then a few cups of broccoli slaw per person, and chopped mint and basil. I tossed with the dressing, tidied up, and then chopped up my chicken and added it to the bowl.
It was devoured while I watched some trashy tv. My 600-lb. life, followed by the first five minutes of Sex sent me to the ER. I had to turn it off. I wish I was making this stuff up.