Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wagamama-style Chicken Barbecue

Another sunny Saturday, another barbecue! The idea to use Wagamama salad dressing as a marinade for tonight's chicken was inspired by having left-over dressing from our afternoon brunch salad! It is very tasty as a dressing with flavours that work very well together; soy sauce, oil, vinegar, shallots, tomato ketchup - here's the recipe:

Wagamama Salad Dressing

Makes about 125ml (4fl oz). Can be kept in the fridge for a few days.

2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots

2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1½ tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 tablespoon water

100ml (3½fl oz) vegetable oil

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl or screwtop jar and set aside.

I usually make a double batch because it keeps for much longer than suggested in the refrigerator. Naturally, it's at its very best when fresh. I like the soy flavour (which really comes through) and the sweetness of the tomato ketchup - these flavours work surprisingly well together. Dead easy to make, and a little goes a long way.

I first skinned the chicken pieces (leg and thigh - the most flavourful part of the bird, in my opinion) and slashed them with a sharp knife to ensure that the meat cooks thoroughly and the marinade penetrates the meat. The chicken was left to marinate for about an hour, while the briquettes were heating up in my Weber kettle barbecue. Once the fire was ready, I shoved the coals to the sides of the grill, and put the whole, un-jointed chicken pieces in the centre of the grill so that they would cook more slowly by indirect heat. I covered the grill and went to watch Steve make his Lemon-Saffron rice:

Lemon Saffron Rice

4 tbsp. butter
2 c. long grain rice
5 c. chicken stock
2 generous pinches saffron
2 tbsp. lemon zest (finely grated peel)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 c. chopped cilantro

1. Melt butter in large heavy saucepan. Add rice and cook, stirring until rice is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add chicken stock, saffron, salt, garlic and lemon zest. Stir well to dissolve saffron.
3. When stock begins to simmer, lower heat and cook, covered 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove garlic.
4. Before serving, gently stir in cilantro.

Now, back to the chicken: After about 30 minutes, I liberally dosed the pieces on both sides with the marinade and turned them over. I turned the pieces once or twice more after that.

When I brought the chicken pieces indoors, I knew I had something special. The chicken was well cooked and tender and smelled delightfully smoky, as though I'd used wood chips to flavour it - wonderful!!

This recipe is a 'keeper'.

Experiment with your food!

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