How do you say “Mandarin Chicken” in Mandarin? Just curious…

I’ve been reading this book called Real Age Cooking.  Or Cooking the Real Age Way.  Or Cooking for Your Real Age.  Okay fine, I don’t remember the title, but I know it has the words “cooking,” “real,” and “age” in it.  And it’s a good book. It’s got lots of healthful recipes, and even some handy fun facts like, “Flossing your teeth daily will make you 6.7 years younger.”  Pretty cool, huh?  The best part is the recipes though….I love recipes. I love reading them, I love looking at pictures of the finished products, and I especially love trying them out for myself.  Did I mention I love recipes?  It’s kind of an obsession.

I came across this one for Mandarin chicken and immediately decided I must try it.  I love Asian inspired dishes, and this one seemed both delicious and easy enough to make on a busy weeknight.  I also had most of the ingredients on hand, which is what truly sent me over the edge into Mandarin chicken oblivion.  Did that even make sense?  No? Okay.  Let’s just get to the recipe.

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. dark sesame oil (this stuff is soooo good and can be used on many things..salads, sandwiches, whatev)
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/4 tbsp julienned pickled ginger
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 lb. cooked and chopped boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups drained canned mandarin orange segments
1/2 cup blanched snow peas
1/2 cup drained canned bamboo shoots
1/2 cup drained canned water chestnuts
4 cups shredded lettuce
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

So that is the recipe that’s in the book.  Of course, I had to slightly change it to make it easier for me, cause I’m lazy like that. First off, I could not find pickled freaking ginger. So I just used fresh, and it worked just as well.  Second, instead of blanching snow peas and buying canned water chestnuts, I just bought a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables.  Both of those and several other vegetables were in there, so I think I just upped the nutritional value of this entire recipe. It’s how I do things.  Finally, I didn’t have sesame seeds, and I forgot to look for them. I did have flax seeds though, and they look pretty much the same, so I figured what the hell.

Here’s how I made it all come together:

-Mix the rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and soy sauce together in a large ziploc bag.

-Take UNCOOKED chicken breasts, cut off the nasty fat globs, and cut them into strips or cubes, whatever gets ya going.

-Put the chicken in the ziploc with the marinade and let it set for about 15 minutes.

-While the chicken is soaking up the deliciousness of the marinade, start cooking your stir fry veggies.  Just pour a little sesame and olive oil in a skillet and throw the vegetables in, stirring occasionally.

-When the chicken is done marinating, you can pan cook it, or throw it on the grill.  I cooked it in a pan because the last time I tried to light our grill, a giant flameball shot out at me and singed my eyebrows and I was terrified it might happen again.  What? I like my eyebrows. I spend a lot of time shaping them into perfection. Anyway, I cooked my chicken in a pan on the stove, but it would’ve been better grilled. Of this I am certain.

-Now you’ve got two things cooking, so let’s add one more.  Get your sesame (or flax) seeds, and throw them in a small pot with a little sesame oil.  Put the burner on low, and stir these around frequently so they don’t burn. You only want to cook these for a few minutes.

-Once the chicken and veggies are done, serve ’em up.  I put my chicken on a bed of the shredded lettuce and topped it with the oranges and flax seeds, and I served the vegetables on the side. I also made some brown rice with turmeric, cardamom, coriander, ginger, and sea salt and that as another side.  Or you can just mix everything together and shovel it into your face that way. It’s up to you.  See how many options you have with this meal? 

Here’s the finished product:

Yums. The books says it’s 184 calories per serving, but that isn’t counting the extra vegetables and rice.  Still, it’s a low-cal nutritious meal….and if you eat it 12 times per year, it’ll make you 9.7 days younger.

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