Monday, January 17, 2011

Sauteed Chicken and Dandelion Leaves with Tamari

I know what you must be thinking, dandelion leaves? I had the same reaction a couple of years ago when I saw them in the produce section of my local health food store. What does one do with dandelion leaves? Dandelion's are good in a salad, they aid in digestion by stimulating the liver, and act as a mild laxative. They are also a great substitute for spinach in the early spring when they are at their peak. In this season of detoxification, I thought I'd add my own spin on an old recipe.

In Japan this recipe was originally called daikon no ha to sake, sauteed Japanese white radish leaves and grilled salmon with soy sauce. I am not one to eat radish leaves, personally I believe they have a sharper bite to them then arugula leaves, but I still liked the thought of salmon and sauteed greens flavored with soy sauce. The first time I made this dish was with salmon and dandelion, since I knew this green was supposed to be good for me and I wanted to give it a try. It turned out much better than I expected.

I got this recipe from my favorite authority on Japanese country cooking and restaurant owner, Gaku Homma. I've used his cookbook 'The Folk Art of Japanese Country Cooking' to the point that the pages are falling out. He also had a suggestion that chicken could be used in this recipe, so being the good experimentalist that I am, I had to try it out with the dandelion leaves.

Thus this recipe was born. Trust me, if you get the dandelion leaves in early spring, they have a wonderful mild flavor that is surprisingly refreshing and mixed with the flavor of shiitake mushrooms and sauteed chicken, it may soon be your favorite standby recipe.

1 bunch of fresh dandelion leaves, washed
2 tsp sesame oil, not the toasted variety
1/2 oz. grated ginger (about 1/2 inch off of a piece of fresh ginger) or 1/4 tsp ginger powder
2 scallions, chopped
1 lb. ground or thinly sliced chicken
3 to 4 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup hot water for 10 minutes
2 Tbs. wheat free tamari
3 Tbs. sake
1 Tbs. brown sugar

  1. Bring a large pot of water and 1 Tbs of salt to a boil. Add dandelion leaves and boil for 10 minutes. Remove dandelion leaves and soak in ice water or run under cold water for 10 minutes.
  2. Squeeze out excess water and chop finely. In a heated skillet, coat with the oil and saute chopped scallions, dandelion, and grated ginger (remove skin before grating) for 7 to 8 minutes. Save the water the shiitake was in, remove the stems and thinly slice the mushrooms; add to the skillet and saute for 2 more minutes.
  3. Move the vegetables over to one side of the skillet and add the chicken. Saute until the meat changes color, while stirring the vegetables to make sure that they do not become overcooked. Add the water from the mushrooms, tamari, sake, and sugar; mix well. Saute until all the liquid is absorbed. Serve and enjoy.
Note: If you are not a big sake person, you can use 2 Tbs of mirin or sweet rice wine in place of the sake and sugar.

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