One thing I’ve come to love about my family is our mutual interest in food. I had no idea that my parents were laying down some groundwork for making me a little foodie. I grew up eating Japanese food and my mother cooked nearly every night. She did not settle on the same recipes night after night or focus solely on convenience foods. I know we had some old faithfuls (clam sauce spaghetti and Japanese curry), but mostly she cooked what she knew (Japanese) and tried new things and even attempted some classic American stuff like Tuna Noodle Casserole.
I still don’t understand tuna noodle casserole, but that’s for another story.
When my family is on vacation, we like to focus on what good food we can get out of it. We went out a lot, we cooked a lot, basically ate ourselves completely stuffed. And then some.
My mom even brought a binder of her current fav recipes nicely printed out and put in sheet protectors. And left it here for me. We ate homemade breakfasts and dinners made almost entirely from these recipes, with leftovers for lunch.
I like that we cooked together and she seemed to trust my instincts for cooking. That was something I had to earn I guess. I can picture my own daughter and I continuing this tradition. Sharing recipes, cooking great food, and cleaning up afterwards. And let’s not forget all the fancy restaurants we’ll visit, on my tab.
My mom and I made this Japanese Amazu Chicken out of her recipe binder. She had written her own rating next to it: 9 out of 10. I loved it too. Amaya liked the “worms” especially. It was one of the few meals we’ve had lately that she’s eaten every part of. This is not a weigh you down meal. And it is so simple and fresh. The outside is nice and crunchy. I’ve put in the slight variations that we used and I tried to make the instructions more user friendly. I also think that next time I make it I will marinate the chicken for an hour beforehand in a mixture of 2 T olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, 4 T soy sauce, 2 T mirin.
Japanese Amazu Chicken (makes 4 servings)
adapted from Marie Rizzio, Traverse City, Mich, grand prize winner in the 1999 national chicken cooking contest
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 3/4 C cornstarch
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds lengthwise
- 1/4 C vegetable oil
- 3 C fresh soy bean sprouts
- 1 Japanese cucumber
- 6 T minced green onions
- Amazu sauce (recipe follows)
- toasted sesame seeds
In a large bowl, mix together eggs and cornstarch. Add about half the oil to a large nonstick frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Dip chicken strips into mixture, coating well, one at a time and add to the pan (cook about half the chicken at a time).
Break off the tails of the soy bean sprouts. You can use a different kind of sprout if you like, but I think the soy bean sprout tastes the best. Removing the tails is time consuming but worth it. Wash thoroughly and drain.
Blanch the soy bean sprouts in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin lengthwise strips of cucumber. Arrange the soybean sprouts on top of a large plate that you will use as a serving dish. Place cucumber strips on top of that, then chicken, then green onions and sesame seeds on top. Drizzle with Amazu sauce.
- 1/4 C soy sauce
- 1/4 C sugar
- 1/4 C rice vinegar
- 1 T sesame oil
In a small bowl, mix together soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and sesame oil. Whisk until blended well.