Allow me to sweep you across the Pacific today as we visit a land of rice brewed beverages, incredibly fresh tuna, and one of the most intriguing cultures in existence. I was a lucky 17-year-old when I was invited to Japan by a good friend and his wife, who was an Osaka native. My knowledge of Japanese cuisine, at the time – or should I say what I thought I knew – was on par with my ability to use chopsticks — embarrassing and a little…off. But as each day of my adventure unfolded, my hunger grew stronger and my appreciation fonder.
A whole new definition of soul food was brought to life, for me. The type of soul that originates from a deep-rooted society of tradition and history where food is an undeniable way of life and meaning to their existence. With each meal the most fresh and pure ingredients are prepared in the simplest of ways to create captivating presentations and unforgettable flavors.
This dish was made for me by my host mother after I expressed my love for the fresh seasonal flavors and the sweet taste of sesame. It ‘s been nearly ten years, and I can still taste that first bite of pleasure hitting my tongue. The recipe below was taken from the only Japanese cookbook I could find in English! Arigato gozaimasu Japan!
Banbanji Chilled Sesame Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 pack bean sprouts
- 2 cucumbers
- 3/4 cup roasted white sesame seeds
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp mirin (or 3 Tbsp sake + Tbsp sugar)
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 12 cherry tomatoes halved
- Place chicken in pan of lightly salted water boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in the water. Remove chicken reserving the stock. When cool, tear chicken into long strips by hand.
- In separate pan, blanch bean sprouts, rinse immediately in cold water and drain.
- Slice cucumbers diagonally into matchsticks.
- Make the sauce by grinding sesame seeds with a grinder or food processor. Add soy, mirin and vinegar and mix in some reserved stock, a little at a time until mixture becomes smooth.
- Arrange sprouts, chicken and cucumbers on plate and dress with sesame sauce. Serve with cherry tomatoes.