Monday, August 3, 2015

Asian Slaw with Ground Cherries and Chicken

Asian Slaw with Ground Cherries and Chicken

 Pretty much any American child knows that cherries grow on trees. After all, besides after 1) being the first U.S. president, 2) leading the American army in the Revolutionary War and 3) appearing on the $1 bill, Washington's fourth most famous act was chopping down that cherry tree (or rather 'fessing up about it). Thus, we all knew from a very early age that cherries grow on trees, before we knew that berries grow on vines or that potatoes grow on the ground (and sometimes in 2nd grade classroom water glasses).

Ground Cherries
Ground cherries, most still in their husks.

Along come ground cherries to throw a big ol' monkey wrench in our early education. Cherries? Growing on the ground?! What madness is this?!

Physalis is the genus name for a group of flowering plants, some of which bear edible fruit. Many of the fruit are referred to as ground cherries, and they are also related to the larger tomatillo, which shares the same papery skin. Ground cherries are smaller, resembling golden cherry tomatoes. They don't taste like tomatoes, however. They have a sweet flavor and tart tanginess reminiscent of pineapple.
Ground cherries with husks removed.
Because pineapple pairs nicely with Asian flavors such as soy and ginger, I thought these little beauties I picked up at the New Morning Farm farmers market recently would be good in an Asian-inspired slaw. They were delightful actually. If you see some at your market, I hope you pick them up, and please let me know how you use them.

Asian Slaw with Ground Cherries and Chicken

Makes 3 dinner portions

2 tbsp. olive oil
2/3 lb. chicken breast cutlets
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Salt, to taste
Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
Half a head of green cabbage, shredded
1 yellow or orange carrot, peeled and cut into fine strips with a julienne peeler or coarsely shredded with a grater
1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed and discarded)
1/2 cup ground cherries, skins removed
1/2 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. black sesame seeds

1 to 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (should yield about 2 tsp.)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. soy sauce

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken breasts and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Pan fry until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning the chicken breasts over after about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool, then chop into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrot, onion, cilantro, ground cherries, peanuts, sesame seeds and cooked chicken. 

3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the slaw. Toss to coat. Serve in large bowls.

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