Tamarind Spiced Nuts and Chicken Tenders ala Haila with Shitake

Lest you think I am the El Chapo of cake, I also cook savories as well. Here are two recipes that are fast, easy and break the dinger on the delicious bell. I’d like to explain that reference on the delicious bell but my sister says, rightly so, if you have to explain it, you should have left it out. And speaking of my sister, first up is Chicken Tenders ala Haila with Shitake. Both my sisters are excellent cooks. I know they are slightly bemused, slightly irritated at my late in life cookery, as I have sat at their tables many a time in the old country (Oregon) with no reciprocation whatsoever except my excellent company. Now one good sister lives in a valley yonder, and the other one lives about a block away -if we’re going to eat together, we’re going to go to the diner, like all other self-respecting New Yorkers. Chicken tenders are the fastest and easiest form of chicken and can be marinated in all sorts of good stuff to produce the most wonderful results. You can mix up the sauce and throw it and the chicken in a zip lock at any point -in the morning before work, or thirty minutes before cooking, just do it the easiest way for you. Here’s the recipe as texted from my sis, she keeps a jar of this in the fridge and just uses as needed. parenthesis are mine because I tend to over explain.

Marinade: 1/3 cup tamari (I use Bragg’s Amino’s cuz that’s what I always use in place of soy or tamari) 3 Tbsp. sesame oil (toasted), 3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar (white or brown), clove of garlic crushed, grated fresh ginger – (I have a problem grating ginger for some reason so I cut off about an inch and just chop it up) put marinade and tenders in a baggie for an hour (or whatever.)

Cut up shitakis, put a little olive oil in a pan and sauté shitaks til browned (mine could have gone a little longer, but it honestly doesn’t matter), add chicken and marinade to pan and cook til done. (the only way I know how to tell if it’s done is to cut one open, you may know better)

Serve over rice with garnish of green onion. (Garnish always makes food look more professional and special, but it is also a well thought out taste accent, so go for it with the scallions)

I’m telling you this simple recipe is mouth-watering good, I would serve this on any occasion. If you want to make it fancy, put it on a pretty platter over brown or white rice and serve it with two big forks like you’re the boss, otherwise dish it up from the pan.  I got the organic chicken tenders at Trader Joe’s. I like to do organic when I can but it does get expensive with the amount I cook, particularly in produce. I don’t think it makes a difference to the nutrition of the product, some might argue with me  on that, but generally I would prefer my food not to be sprayed with stuff I wouldn’t normally want to eat. So I buy organic when I’m feeling flush and feel good about it, and I buy ‘conventional’ when I start shaking my head at the tally in my basket and don’t give it another thought. La dee dah, la DEE dah.

Now for the nuts.

This recipe comes from my BFF Melissa Clark and is so crazy good I started bottling it. (mason jars, black tape label maker.) I’ve always wanted to cook with tamarind so when I saw this recipe pop up in the NYT Cooking app, I jumped up and said “today’s the day!” As you can see from the photo, my tamarind comes from the magical land of Kalustyan’s but you can get it online if you don’t have a source near you. It can usually be found in Thai, Middle Eastern or Indian shops, and has what they describe as a citrusy taste but I’m not sure I agree totally with that. Wikipedia tells me Tamarind is a pod like tree fruit native to Africa and a whole lot of other interesting stuff including the fact that you can use it as a metal polish. You’ll see garam masala in this recipe as well, which is readily available in most spice sections. I’m not actually a huge fan of garam masala but trust me, don’t leave out a single ingredient, all these elements right up to the mint garnish are part of the whole, and you are going to be blown away by the incredible mixture of rich brown sugar and butter, tart tomato paste and tamarind, sweet honey and earthy coconut and a pinch of cayenne for fire. The mint is the cooling agent, and also a sort of conduit to open up the other flavors. And it’s so dang easy, don’t say no, just do it. And tell me about it!



Tamarind Spiced Nuts with Mint by Melissa Clark

And, just incase you were wondering…


Cake for desert!


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