When I first learned to cook, Jamie's Kitchen was my most confidence-inspiring cookbook. The other day I pulled it down from the shelf and flipped through it. Dozens of recipes triggered memories, like the first time I discovered Italian salsa verde, and how to make risotto. But my goal was to find something in an old favorite that I'd never tried before.
Why I Picked This Recipe: While quick chicken recipes are pretty common, many of them can be boring, using the same old techniques with little variation. But in years of cooking, I've never seen anything quite like this. Raw chicken thighs are blended up with aromatics like ginger, garlic, and scallions to make a paste, which is then quickly folded into cabbage leaves and steamed. It actually comes together far more quickly than you'd think.
What Worked: Curiously, the recipe calls for a can of water chestnuts blended in with the chicken. But it turned out to be the perfect way to keep the mixture from being too dense, and the texture was fantastic.
What Didn't: While I like the idea of a dipping sauce for these, I would be just as inclined to lay them nicely on a plate and drizzle with sauce.
Suggested Tweaks: If it's easy to find, lemongrass would be a great addition to this mixture.
Adapted from Jamie's Kitchen.
- 1 medium savoy or Chinese cabbage
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 6 scallions, white and light green parts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 to 2 fresh small red chili peppers
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 4 trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs, roughly chopped (about 1 pound)
- 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts
- 2 tablespoons juice and 2 teaspoons grated zest from 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Your choice of dipping sauce, such as prepared sweet chili sauce, or hoisin thinned with soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Remove and discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage, then slice off the root end and separate the leaves. Plunge them into the boiling salted water to blanch for 2 minutes, then remove to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside. Pour out all but a couple inches of water in the bottom of the pot and place a steamer inside the pot (or place a bamboo steamer on top of the pot).
Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the garlic, ginger, scallions, cilantro, red chilis, fish sauce, and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt until everything is minced. Add the chicken, water chestnuts, lime zest and juice, and sesame oil. Process until completey pureed; the result will be a kind of meat paste.
Lay out the leaves of cabbage on a cutting board and place a small amount (2-3 tablespoons) of the chicken mixture onto the root end of a cabbage leaf. Fold the leaf over once to enclose the chicken, fold both sides in, then roll it once again so that the seam side is down. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and chicken.
Bring the water in the bottom of the steaming pot to a boil, then place the parcels seam side down into the basket. Cover and steam until the chicken is cooked through, 6-8 minutes depending on their size.
Serve with the dipping sauce and the toasted sesame seeds scatted on top.