You know that feeling when you’re trying to type a sentence and you start by constructing it in your head, arranging it until it sounds satisfactorily intelligent – then you type it out and realize it’s utter shit, so you stab at the backspace key until it’s disappeared and then mosey off to tumblr, twitter or some other social media website to whinge about how hard writing is and how much homework you have. That is exactly how I spent last week: squeezing sentences out of the crevices of my brain (in between its constant short-circuiting on a stream of social media snacking) to meet deadlines. Ah, academia.
But the important thing is that I have managed to crank out and edit three essays in the last week! So now I can finally tell you about what I’ve been stuffing down my gullet when not cursing the SOAS administration for making picture captions a mandatory part of the word count. Bloody sadistic bureaucrats.
What you see above, friends, is another riff on a Kurihara recipe. It is mind-bogglingly easy and absurdly delicious. And fast. Did I mention fast? And low-effort? And delicious enough for me to not bother with cleaning the crumbs for the photo so I could just cram it straight into my mouth? Or I could just be lazy.
In any case, it starts with a chicken thigh fillet or two. Or four. Never breast, whatever the health junkies say. (Plus it’s cheaper than breast here! Why wouldn’t you?) Marinate it in soy sauce and Shaoxing wine, and, if you’re feeling bold, a teaspoon of chilli garlic sauce**. Smear liberally with mayonnaise, Kewpie if you have it. Don’t be shy. Drop a fistful or two of grated cheese over the top. Grill for 8 minutes in an oven. Ta-dah! Instant meal.
I ate this something like three or four times last week, and it sustained me through several dull, torturous essays. Boring, yes, but a very delicious kind of boredom, and a great way of making chicken taste like the culinary equivalent of getting a makeover and a pair of fuck-me-stripper-boots with studs. Or, if you tone down the marinade and take away the garlic sauce, little kitten heels and schoolgirl skirts. (As you can see, the line between thinking about food and sex is a little on the hazy side for me.)
In any case, it’s lovely eaten with many different things. Like that open-faced sandwich up there – placed atop a hunk of lightly-toasted crusty bread, finished off with a few slices of avocado and black pepper. It’s also eminently edible cold, which means it is forever in my mental list of Bento Box Items. I imagine it would be great in a salad. My favourite way to have it, though, is with rice, fried or otherwise: pour the hot chicken juices – which will inevitably have pooled during grilling – onto rice. Seriously, don’t forget the juices. You won’t be sorry, especially if it’s kimchi fried rice.
**L’ail Olive’s sauce is addictive. I managed to inhale half a jar over the course of an afternoon watching anime in teaspoonfuls, punctuated by Nutella and cream. I would not recommend it, though it is a highly delicious way to burn your throat raw.
Grilled Chicken Fillets with Mayonnaise
adapted from Harumi Kurihara, Everyday Harumi
Personally, I prefer a sharp, mature Cheddar to the Parmesan the original recipe calls for, but the latter seems more amenable when consumed cold. It’s delicious either way, though, and I imagine you could substitute any melting cheese you happen to have. Kewpie mayonnaise if you have it on hand, because it really does taste very different from standard mayonnaise (probably the addition of apple cider vinegar) — but it’s not necessary. Adjust all quantities to suit your taste, and mess around with it as much as you like. If you can, let it sit in the marinade for at least an hour. If you can’t, no worries: the original recipe only called for 2 – 3 minutes anyway. It’ll still taste fantastic.
3 skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 tbsp shoyu / soy sauce (light)
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp – 1tbsp chilli garlic sauce (optional)
2 – 3 tbsp Kewpie mayonnaise
grated cheese (reckon 1/4 to 1/2 cup per fillet)
Remove any gristle from the chicken fillets, and if you like, leave the fat (it’s full of flavour). Put in a bowl, cover with the soy sauce, wine and optional chilli garlic sauce. Marinate for up to a few hours.
Put the chicken on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil, and spread the mayonnaise evenly over the fillet. Scatter grated cheese atop the fillets.
Heat the oven (185C – 230C)* and cook for 8 – 9 minutes, until browned.
*I find that 8 and a half minutes at 185C is sufficient for it to be tender and cooked through, but you may wish to let it go a little longer, or grill it at the higher end of the temperature range specified here.