Microwaving is one of the newest cooking methods, yet it has much in common with two of the most ancient: steaming and poaching. With a covered plate and a little liquid, the microwave oven cooks food fast without burning or drying it out.
These Asian-inspired chicken rolls can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. If a peanut butter-based sauce doesn’t appeal to you, try a little hoisin sauce instead.
Feel free to improvise with filling and sauce, shifting from country to country for inspiration. Make it French with mushroom duxelles, fresh tarragon and a dab of Hollandaise. Or, go Spanish with diced ham, chopped green olives and a drizzle of olive oil.
• Steam the old-fashioned way, if you like, in a lightly oiled steamer. Or, line the steamer basket with lettuce leaves to ensure the chicken won’t stick.
• Experiment with white fish fillets standing in for the chicken. Just handle the cooked rolls carefully; fish can fall apart easily.
• Beverage pairing: A spicy gewurztraminer would be jazzy enough for the Asian flavorings. Or, consider a pot of freshly brewed white tea.
Asian Chicken Roll-ups
Yield: 4 servings
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves
4 green onions, cut into ›-inch lengths
2 jalapenos, seeded, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece (1/2-inch long) fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine
1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably all-natural
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon red chili paste
1/4 cup water, optional
4 to 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (see note)
Pound chicken breasts to flatten; set aside. Combine the green onions, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl; divide the mixture evenly among the four chicken pieces. Roll up each breast; secure with toothpick or tie with string.
Pour sherry into microwaveable container; add chicken rolls. Cover; cook the chicken rolls on high (100 percent power), rotating the container occasionally if needed, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Let the rolls rest 1 minute before serving.
Meanwhile for sauce, stir together the peanut butter, sesame oil and chili paste in a small bowl; if necessary, thin with water to desired consistency. Drizzle sauce over rolls; garnish with the cilantro and sesame seeds.
Note: To toast sesame seeds, heat in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking occasionally, until seeds brown, about 3 minutes.