Red cabbage, red onion, bell pepper, carrots, cilantro, and roasted chicken, tossed in a soy-sauce-based dressing with sesame oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey, garlic, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds

Roasted chicken, day two (or three).

Rarely, when I roast a chicken, the chicken will unexpectedly come out of the oven “a little rare.” The last time that this happened, I had the bright idea of placing the chicken on top of a few small potatoes to raise it off the dutch oven’s steamer. I thought that this might allow hot air to circulate underneath the chicken and crisp its skin. Perhaps this would have worked if I had let the roasting continue, but I pulled the dutch oven out after waiting the usual hour and fifteen minutes and learned that the usual hour and fifteen minutes clearly did not suffice.

Most nights, I roast chickens in the usual manner and leave the experimenting to the actual meal. I immediately serve the thighs and drumsticks on the first night because I like dark meat (and because it’s extremely easy to separate the two legs), save the breast and back meat for another day, and freeze the bones to make stock. I tend to predictably pair the first night’s chicken with a simple arrangement of potatoes and vegetables, quinoa and veggies, or fried rice because the chicken is great on its own—golden and crispy on the outside with fall-off-the-bone meat on the inside. On the second and third nights, I’ve used the leftovers to make appetizers and hot and cold dishes ranging from my Grandma’s chicken salad, Japanese cold noodles, pot pies, to noodle soups.

One night, while watching the local cooking channel, I learned the basic technique for making cabbage-based chicken salads: chop up cabbage and mix with a soy sauce dressing. Ah. I don’t cook often with cabbage, mostly because I don’t know how to prepare it. However, this particular recipe and technique seemed approachable, so I gave it a try using two small heads of cabbage, one red and one green.

I started with an unroasted chicken in the refrigerator. Rather than wait for days two and three, I abandoned my usual chicken meal on the first night and instead shredded the leg meat and cabbage and tossed everything together with sliced bell peppers and red onions. For the dressing, I poured soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, and fish sauce together, and added chopped garlic and sesame seeds. For this particular salad, I wanted a dressing that’s salty, sweet, and savory but leaned slightly more sweet. Because oyster sauce tends to be quite sweet and salty, to balance the saltiness of the oyster, soy, and fish sauces, I whisked in honey at the end.

I liked this salad so much that on the next night, instead of making chicken quesadillas with the leftover chicken, I repurposed the tortillas as salad wraps. After chopping bell peppers, red onions, cabbage, and cilantro, I stir-fried everything with the salad dressing and stuffed them into the wheat tortillas. The wraps were warm and soft on the outside, crispy and savory and sweet on the inside. The picture shown above, using corn tortillas, shows another experimental variation of this dish. However, I prefer the wheat tortillas because the flavors and textures reminded me much of Peking Duck, one of my childhood favorite dishes. Thus ends the story of how cabbage entered my cooking vocabulary.

Posted April 2, 2015

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I am Tommy Leung, an engineer and amateur chef. These are my curiosities. (RSS)