Food choice-wise, hot pot and fried food probably won't be on my top list at this moment. How about a cold dish that comes with some protein, couple different vegetables, and lots of tasty Asian seasonings? That should help the appetite in this scorching weather!
Chinese cold dish using chicken, cucumber, bean sprouts, and lots of appetizing seasonings -
- 1 lb of chicken (dark or white meat based on personal preference, I used half and half)
- 4 small/medium cucumbers (skinny type)
- 1 small bundle of bean sprouts
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 stalks of scallion
- 3 red chilies
- 1 small bundle of cilantro
- 4 tablespoons of black vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 3 teaspoons of homemade chili sauce (include some chili oil)
- 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar
- Some sea salt
Use boneless and skinless chicken as a whole. Put the chicken into a pot and fill in the water till all the chicken is covered by the liquid. Turn to low heat to slowly cook the chicken. You can test the doneness by sticking a chopstick into the thickest part of the chicken. If the chopstick comes out easy and clean then the meat should be ready to use.
If the pot starts to boil eventually, leave the fire on for another 3 to 5 minutes then the chicken should be fully cooked through too. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool off for about five minutes. Remove the chicken from the liquid and thread into smaller strips by hands.
Remove any dry string-like stems from the bean sprouts. Bring another pot of water to a boil and add in the bean sprouts. Cook for about 10 seconds, drain well and shock the sprouts with icy cold water. Make sure to use previously boiled water to prevent bacterial contamination. Once cool down, drain well and set aside for later use. You can also cover with foil and transfer to the fridge while waiting for the "final assembling."
Thoroughly rinse the cucumber and chop off stems. Use the side of the knife to smash the cucumber. You can also cover the cucumbers with clear foil and smash them with a rolling pan. We want unevenly smashed surface so that the seasonings can better cling onto the cucumbers.
Transfer the smashed cucumber strips to a container and sprinkle about 3 teaspoons of sea salt. Mix well with one hand and let it sit for about 3 minutes. The salt will help drawing out the liquid and the grassy taste from raw cucumbers.
Discard this liquid and rinse the cucumber with cold water (previously boiled also). Once done, pat dry and set aside for later use. You can also cover the cucumbers with clear foil and transfer to the fridge first.
Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Discard the bottom stems from the scallion and chop the remaining section. Discard the stems from the chilies and finely chop the remaining part. Finely chop the cilantro.
Take a big bowl and add in the following ingredients: chopped garlic, chopped scallion, chopped cilantro, and chopped chilies.
Mix in the following seasonings: black vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, granulated sugar, and sesame oil. Mix well.
Mix all the ingredients on a big plate. Give it a quick taste and see if more seasonings are needed. The key here is not to be afraid of over-seasoning. It's actually pretty hard to over-season this dish. In fact, if this cold plate is not sour or spicy enough, the overall flavors will appear flat.
I love to eat it as a side dish with some dry noodles. However, when I'm not in the mood to heat up the food, this dish actually works with cold rice too.
Hope this recipe helps you temporarily forget about the summer heat.