Asian chicken, scallions offer low-carb alternative

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

In her latest cookbook, "Low Carb 1-2-3" (Rodale, 2005, $16.95), food-writer and chef Rozanne Gold combines her sure sense of how to use a few key ingredients (and not a teaspoon more) with a keen eye for nutrition.

Gold's record as a prize-winning cookbook author is based on her creation of recipes that simply work and taste great. Here they are also intended for people who want to eat healthy meals. Diners and cooks who are not focusing on low-carb counts may still be impressed with the low-calorie and low-fat characteristics of many recipes in this varied collection of 225 varied dishes, from breakfasts through main courses to desserts. Nutrition analysis comes along with each recipe.

The following chicken recipe reflects the book's principles and draws flavor influences from Asian cuisine.

In this Asian chicken recipe, the chicken marinates in Asian fish sauce (known as nam pla and nuoc nam), a staple of many dishes in Southeast Asia. You can find it in many supermarkets and certainly in Asian food stores. This is a great dish for a picnic, served at room temperature or chilled.

Asian Chicken With Scallions

4 large chicken breast halves on the bone (about 10 ounces each), with skin

1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

4 scallions

The day before you plan to serve, cut each chicken breast in half across the width of the breast. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour the fish sauce over. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Remove 3 inches of the dark green part of the scallions and discard. Cut each of the scallions very thin, on the bias, about 1/8 inch thick. Add the scallions to the bowl with the chicken and toss. Cover and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Lift the chicken from the fish sauce, letting the scallion slices remain on the chicken. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until just firm, then put under the broiler, about 8 inches from the heat, for 1 to 2 minutes, until just golden. Remove from the oven. Remove the skin and serve immediately, if serving hot. Or you can serve the chicken at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 336 cal., 3.57 g total fat (0.94 g saturated), 4.21 g carbo., 0.65 g fiber, 67.49 g pro. (Note: This is a very low carb dish, with 3.56 g carbo minus fiber.)

The following recipe calls for miso, fermented soybean paste, a great carrier of flavors. Miso can be found in the refrigerated section in health food stores and Asian markets. You can make this dish with fresh ginger or prepare it with garlic cloves pushed through a press, Gold says. "I really can't decide which I like better -- so sometimes I make a platter of each for parties. In that case, do chicken breasts with ginger and thighs with garlic. If using garlic, push 4 large cloves through a garlic press and add to the miso-water mixture."

Miso Chicken With fresh Ginger

1/3 cup white (shiro) miso

6-inch piece fresh ginger

4 large chicken breast halves on the bone (about 10 ounces each)

The day before you plan to serve, in a large bowl, combine the miso and 1/3 cup cold water and whisk until thoroughly combined, smooth and thick.

Using a small, sharp knife, peel the ginger. Grate the ginger on the large holes of a box grater. Wrap the grated ginger in a paper towel and squeeze the ginger juice, about 2 tablespoons, through the paper towel into the bowl with the miso. Stir to incorporate.

Cut the chicken breasts in half across the width of each breast. Add the chicken to the miso-ginger mixture and turn the pieces to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt. For a more gingery flavor, you can finely chop the remaining ginger pulp, add it to the chicken, and mix again. Cover and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Remove chicken from the bowl, making sure some marinade remains on the chicken, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, skin side up. Bake for 10 minutes, then put under the broiler, about 6 inches from the heat, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the skin is dark golden brown and the chicken is just firm to the touch. (Be careful not to overcook.) Remove the skin and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 364 cal., 4.96 g total fat (1.15 g saturated), 7.48 g carbo., 1.38 g fiber, 68.29 g pro. (Note: This has 6.10 g carbo, minus fiber.)

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