Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Domestic Sluttery: Improv Bang Bang Chicken of the Sea

As mentioned in the DSIW intro post, I go to Costco once a week.  That trip is made on Sunday mornings, with my mom, and we have a wonderful mother-daughter bonding time involving the ogling of many baked goods*, the use of much profanity, and the reinforcement of our shared opinion that Californians seriously do not know how the fuck to drive**.

I am all about buying meat and fish in bulk then freezing it in single-meal portions; it’s cheaper, it cuts down on the number of times I have to go to the store, it reduces the amount of packaging involved in my meat & fish consumption, it’s just a win-win-win.  Win.  I’m not even sure how many.  There’s a lot of win involved.

And while that works perfectly well for a lot of things, it does not work for tuna, so when I buy a piece of tuna at Costco on Sunday, it goes in the fridge and is eaten no later than Tuesday.  Buying tuna at Costco is a hit & miss prospect, not because of quality (that’s consistently good) but because of quantity.  I don’t know if the butchers are still drunk from Saturday night when they parcel it out or if some of the tunas fight back harder than others or what, but more often than not, my choices for tuna-buying are an 88 lb slab or a scrap barely sufficient to feed a colicky toddler who doesn’t particularly care for tuna even on a good day.

So when I find a piece the proper size for two adults, I grab it***.  And eat it within 48 hours.  Which is why I decided to try Domestic Sluttery’s Bang Bang Chicken recipe with tuna.  And holy wow am I ever glad I did, because it was awesome.

I made far more alterations to this recipe than just swapping out the protein, but the end result stayed pretty true to the spirit of the original, in that it was rich & peanutty & spicy & again made it far too easy for us to eat twice as much as we should have.

First off, since tuna cooks far more quickly than chicken, I decided to combine all of the poaching liquid ingredients beforehand and let the tuna marinate in it for a couple of hours, to make sure it really soaked up all the yum.  The changes I made there were using jarred chopped ginger and lemongrass, since that’s what I keep handy, and throwing in a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice because I don’t have star anise in the spice rack right now (which I totally thought I did, but if I do, I can’t find it).  Oh, I also used minced garlic from the 3 lb jar that is in my fridge at all times.  I use far too much garlic on a weekly basis to want to mess with chopping it fresh every day.

“But what is that I see?”, you are asking yourselves right about now, “you neglected to add a small piece of tuna to the marinade!”

No, I did not neglect.  When tuna is cooked in this house, a small piece of it is cooked sans seasoning for the third resident of our household

Lady Byng, Spoiled Rotten Little Shit Extraordinaire

who is a thoroughly spoiled rotten little shit, and is also the only canine I’ve ever met who likes fish even more than she likes bacon.  Watching the eye-popping backflip-turning hyperventilating happiness that ensues is well worth the small amount of extra work.

But on with the people food.

I did not have rice noodles in the house, so I made black rice instead, which I love and which for some reason we haven’t had for a while so it was about time.  If you’ve never tried it, find it.  It’s amazing, and lends itself really beautifully to nutty dishes like this.

For the accompanying veggies, I did not have bean sprouts, sugar snap peas (dozens of blossoms in the garden that will be ready in a matter of weeks, but that didn’t do much good last night) or spring onions, so I used green beans, a bunch of garlic chives that really needed to be harvested, and threw in a bunch of extra peppers with the carrots that the recipe calla for.

After cooking the tuna and straining the poaching liquid, I gave the veggies a quick swim in it, just enough to heat them through and let them pick up some of the flavor but still keeping them crunchy.

For the sauce, I substituted a heaping tablespoon of chili paste for the chopped red chiles, a sprinkle of dried coriander for the fresh that I didn’t have, and an extra splash of rice vinegar to bump up the acidity since I didn’t have limes handy.

The recipe calls simply for “crunchy peanut butter”.  I don’t know what peanut butter is like in the U.K. but I will tell you this; using natural peanut butter is, to me, an absolute must here.  Using the brand name stuff that works so well in sandwiches and cookies will not work as well here, so check the label.  If the second and third ingredients in your peanut butter are sugar and corn syrup solids, consider picking up a jar of something that contains nothing but peanuts, oil, and salt to keep on hand for your savory peanut butter dish needs.

And once you’d tried this, you will have those needs.  Oh yes.  You will need.

On the menu tonight: Breton Chicken

*Seven.  Pound.  Chocolate.  Layer.  Cake.

**With bonus points for not knowing how the fuck to maneuver a shopping cart.

***Even if it does bear a slightly disturbing resemblance to Oklahoma, a place not exactly renowned for its saltwater fish