Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rasa Malaysia's Szechuan Roasted Chicken (16/24)

In the interest of completing this project on time, expect nothing but posts about roast chickens for the whole of December. As I've mentioned, I've cooked through twenty chickens at this point, but I have yet to post anything beyond chicken number fifteen. With a little over four precious weeks left in 2011, push will have to come to shove as I close out this project.

That said, please say, "Hello!" to Rasa Malaysia's Szechuan Roasted Chicken, a recipe I came across on the interwebs only because I was looking for an Asian-influenced recipe for this project. When I saw this recipe, I thought, "Why not?" The ingredients looked great and who could say no to a self-proclaimed Szechuan rendition of a roast chicken?

The recipe starts with a mortar, pestle, and a small variety of spices.

Szechuan peppercorns, salt, pepper, vanilla powder, and garlic cloves. The peppercorns and the garlic should be releasing some intensely familiar smells of Szechuanese food at this point.

Add in soy sauce, honey, and olive oil to make the ground mixture into a paste.

Instead of letting the chicken marinate in a bowl, I took Rasa Malaysia's suggestion and threw the paste and chicken into a Ziploc bag.

To maximize the effectiveness of the marinade, try to seal the bag with as little air as possible. Then rub a dub dub and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. Like most chicken marinades, the longer you marinate the poultry, the more intense and, usually, more delicious the end product gets.

If you're just going for the hour-long marination process, this is a good time to work on the suggested side of Fennel and Apple Pickle with Cashew. This is a relatively simple salad that brings some acidity to the plate.

Mix in the cut up apples with sliced fennel in a bowl and put the mix into the fridge to keep cool until later.

Heat up some orange juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, and Chinese five spice powder (I know, it sounds weird, but the end product is surprisingly refreshing).

Crush up some roasted cashews and let the vinegar mixture cool in the fridge. I let the mixture get really cold to avoid any soggy apples and fennel and to ensure that the salad was refreshingly cool rather than disappointingly lukewarm.

While you're waiting for the mixture to cool, and if the chicken is done marinating, throw the chicken into the oven. Like most successful chicken roasting methods, the recipe calls for a temperature drop, and in this case, from 400 degrees to 350 degrees. Total roasting time should be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

Toss the nuts, apples, fennels, and vinegar mix together when you have about half an hour left on the roasting clock to let the flavors meld.

The oven should open up to a bird that looks something like this and smells like a Chinese restaurant that has ducks and chickens hanging in the display windows.

The chicken was moist from neck to tail and the intense flavors of Szechuan peppercorns and garlic found their way into the most remote corners of my mouth. Eating this chicken with a bowl of rice was an absolute homerun, and the tangy, tart, nutty, crisp side salad provided some needed acidity and texture to the plate.

With a title claiming inspiration from Szechuanese cuisine, I was hoping the chicken would have incorporated some heat, but the strength of the peppercorn and sweetness from the honey-and-vanilla-infused marinade made for just as satisfying of a dish. Besides, any lack in heat is nothing a little XO sauce or sriracha can't fix.

For my first Asian-inspired roast chicken, this one was pretty darn tasty. If you have any leftover chicken, make sure to save the drippings, too. Eating the leftovers over rice with a healthy spoonful of the pan drippings and some XO sauce is a godsend.

1 comment:

  1. hi there,
    great job and nice recipes.
    but i think your chicken is under cooked because from the picture the chicken loin (inner part of the breast) is still translucent and some of the juices that come out is not clear,
    becareful with salmonella friend...


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