Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Asparagus and Chicken Skin Yakitori


It feels almost weird to be staring at the blogger screen, typing. My brain seems a bit fuzzy in the edible vocabulary department, and this whole writing thing feels a bit foreign. In fact, cooking anything that involved a chopping board felt a bit foreign to me after days of oatcakes and peanut butter for breakfast  lunch dinner, and 2 hours of sleep a night. I've missed the comforting crunch of the knife as it slices through vegetables and the noisy jangling of the lid as the stock boils in the pot; missed sitting down (and no bus seats don't count) to eat, off a plate that requires washing; missed fussing over my food and taking photos before (finally) tucking in. And I've missed this blog.

But yes, I AM BACK. Alive. And awake.

It's a pity the sun – which was all glorious and tempting when I had to be holed up in the studio working – has just about disappeared. But I insist it is barbecue weather anyway. There is nothing as exciting as friends all done with assessment, a pack of 100 skewers from the pound shop and a bag of chicken thighs and wings from the farmer's market. (I have no patience for expensive lean chicken breasts.) The wings were smothered in rempah (pounded spice paste which is the base of almost anything Peranakan) and then grilled a la ayam panggang, and the thighs, chopped into pieces and smothered into another sort of rempah for chicken satay.  And because I hate wasting any part of anything edible at all, I thought to skewer the chicken skins too and make yakitori out of them.

In its raw, cold, flabby form, chicken skin seems hardly appetising, but think back to your grilled chicken wings and roast chicken – the skin really is the best part. I don't subscribe to the anti-fat school of thought; in fact I believe it's all good for our body, and surely, there's a ton of skin-benefitting collagen in the skin, so I wasn't the slightest bit guilty eating these. And come on, there's asparagus involved, fresh in season and so healthy it probably negates all that sinfully delicious chicken fat.



ASPARAGUS AND CHICKEN SKIN YAKITORI
 Credits to shizuoka gourmet for his wonderful help on this chicken skin business.

Ingredients
makes 4 skewers
100g skin from a happy chicken
4 stalks asparagus*

Tare (teriyaki sauce for grilling)
50ml soy sauce
50ml sake
50ml mirin
1 tbsp unrefined cane sugar

*I suggest using thicker stalks as they stand up to the longer grilling and high heat better than the spindly tender young asparagus which I used – they sort of shrivelled up a little by the time the chicken skin was cooked. 

Method
1. To prepare the chicken skin, first lay it flat and hold one end firmly before using your knife to scrape off most of the fat from the inside of the skin. Too much fat will bury the taste of the skin and also end up causing too much smoke when you grill later. But leave some on please (yum). Cut the skin into 1/2 inch wide strips.
2. Chop the asparagus into 1 1/2 inch long pieces. I left the more delicate tops for something else.
3. Thread the skins onto the skewers, alternating them with the asparagus.
4. Simmer the ingredients for the tare to get your basting sauce.
5. Fire up your barbecue or grill and begin grilling on both sides without the sauce. When the skin starts changing colour, brush the sauce on and continue grilling, keep turning to make sure everything is cooked and charred evenly. This is possible in the oven too, on the grill setting at the highest heat possible, but you do miss the aroma of burning charcoal.
6. Eat immediately, while hot and before you can have second thoughts.


The chicken skin is wonderfully smoky and sticky with the sweet salty tare, and each bite yields a delightful burst of chicken juices and fat, perfect against the clean bitter-sweetness of asparagus. These skewers were, as my friend called it, one bite naughty one bite nice. I would like to add, one bite extravagance one bite cheap. I have never understood the British fuss over asparagus season, I do love it but I'm a fair person and I love, say, cabbage just as equally. I must say, a lick of the hot grill does wonders though, and I might just find myself shelving out another £4 (£4?!!) for a bunch of asparagus. Especially if what accompanies it costs basically nothing at all.

Other recipes for the barbie:
Barbecue Coffee Pork Ribs
Singapore Chicken Satay with Proper Satay Peanut Sauce
Grilled Sambal Stingray 

50 comments:

  1. Hi Shu Han! Welcome back to the blogsphere!

    Chicken skin? I'm watching my cholesterol level! :D

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    1. Haha this is worth the cholestrol ;)

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  2. Shu Han , nice to heard from you. Yes, use chicken skin to grill or fry, they are too tempting ! Still can eat them but have to control a bit when age is catching up, hehehe.,

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    1. I think chicken skin has so much yummy flavour! unfortunately I lack control..

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  3. omg, your description (if not the title/pics) have won me over...Mmm! This sounds like bites of heaven!

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    1. Yay! Seriously though, this is not unhealthy.

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  4. I was wondering what to do with the chicken bits in my fridge for tonight; teriyaki sauce! Always a store cupboard staple and a winner with my girl. Thank you for the idea. And well done with finishing up your assessments, I remember those days well (groan!).

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    1. I'm so glad it's over (well almost). And glad to have inspired you for dinner! Terikyaki is always a winner with kids, we always went mad at tori Q!

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  5. High five, Shu Han! I will fight you for the chicken skin :) :) :)

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  6. Welcome back Shu Han! I would never have thought about using chicken skin like this. What an intriguing idea. I too love chicken thighs, they are so much cheaper than the breast and have a deeper flavour. I totally agree with you about asparagus too. It's because it's only available for a short season everyone seems to go mad for it. :)

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    1. Hi caz! So nice to be back (although slightly weird)! I love thighs and wings and legs and feet even (let's save that for another day when i do another shocker post eh)! I still don't get asparagus.. well i do but I don't get the price tag :( Ok I do get it but I can't get over it.

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  7. Welcome back Shu Han...you have made chicken skin look and sound beautiful (as usual)

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  8. So nice to see you back, Shu Han. I hope everything went exactly as you wished!
    I bet your beautiful skewers will scare more than one visitor of your blog because of the skin ;-) I love chicken skin, but when it's grilled and crunchy (just like you say it's the best part of wings), but I have problems with soft skin... This is why I have never ordered it in Tokyo in yakitori restaurants. I was afraid I would hate it. Your skewers look delicious and very tempting though (I don't even mention my beloved asparagus!) and I should try one day just to make sure I never like soft skin (I used to say I didn't like chicken legs but it was before I discovered "shoyu chicken", i.e. legs simmered in sweetish soy sauce... so one never knows...). And yes, Robert-Gilles is an excellent source of Japanese cuisine ideas!

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    1. It's nice to be back sissi! There were a few hiccups but I did the best I could while remaining sane.. am just relieved it's over!

      Haha I had the same thoughts too. (wait till they see my chicken feet post...) I know what you mean about soft skin, yet think about pork belly! Crackling is amazing stuff of course, but a red-braised pork belly in sweet soy sauce (don't know if you've tried it before) is delicious, the soft gelatinous skin that's so tender is just delicious! Anyway, I hope you give this a try someday anyhow :) The skin is still soft but also charred and slightly crisp on the edges where it touches the hot grill!

      Robert-Gilles is wonderful! reminds me, I better drop him a note saying thanks!

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    2. Did you say chicken feet????? I love chicken feet!!!! I remember the face my French butcher made the first time I told him to keep the chicken feet (they weigh your chicken and then remove the innards, the head... ask you if you want the liver etc. but never ask for the feet ;-) ). I'm looking forward to reading your recipe because I have never tried cooking them Asian way.
      Yes, Robert-Gilles has a very inspiring blog and is a wonderful person. I have made and posted several recipes thanks to him.

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  9. What a great idea...
    Thanks for sharing

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  10. Great to know you take back the control over your blog :)
    Two hours of sleep a night, mindless eating (and hectic, as for me), spring gone by while working your fingers to the bone, that sounds so familiar to me :D I'm glad I'm over it and you as well !
    Anyway, this recipe sounds yummy, this should be such a tasty though simple association. I agree with you : skin is the better part of chicken (with thighs, of course) and grease definitely should be good for life (if not for our thighs)... And I love asparagus too, but not mad at them enough either to spend 4£ on them (4 euros seemed already way too pricey to me a few weeks ago) !
    To finish, hope the sun came out for you too, I'm now enjoying the first sunbeams since at least a week (and maybe the last ones for another week - no BBQ possible yet !) :)
    Have a nice week Shu Han !
    PS: sorry for this lengthy message, that's another concern of mine about writing comments - I always write too much !

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    1. Ah, the life of a student! Thankful it's over (though a little bit sad. I like being a student.. I don't wana start workinggggg moannnnn)

      Anyway.

      Hi 5 about the skin and thighs, and honestly, really feel saturated fat is being demonised when it's definitely ok in moderation and at least it's from a natural source, not like margarine or sth. Hi 5 too about the asparagus.. I might wait till the end of the season to get some again, when everyone seems to have been aspragus-ed out.

      Sun's not out I'm afraid. Fingers still crossed :(

      And, I love lengthy messages! x

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    2. Hi Shu Han, thank you very much for stopping by my blog and your kind words !
      But did you not notice the link to the English translation of my post (yes, I'm not that good in English but try to make an effort since some time, to be able to share my recipes with nice people like you :)) ? I am sorry I didn't make it clear enough, I'll have to fix this soon.

      Anyway, you're right, it's not so bad to be a student... this year was a transition period for me which I enjoyed much, but I will soon be over and I'm going to have to find a job too :( !

      About the fat, evidence for our standpoint is that each time I try to skip it from diet and manage to do it for a certain period (say, a week) I can't help eating MORE fatty and sugary things afterwards, to catch up somehow :D

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    3. I see the english blog now, ah such a douche!

      Oh dear, I see myself in the same shoes very very soon :(

      And yes, diets are plain silly really. I think as long as we try our best to eat what comes from a natural source, we can't go too wrong. Within reason of course. I don't eat chicken skin skewers every meal every day..

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    4. I'm going to improve my English by chatting with you, I learn new words everyday :D (in French, "douche" means "shower", but I have no idea how it could be pronounced in English)

      No worries anyway, I know it's quite an unusual way to run a blog and I'm not yet sure it to go on with it this way...

      And yes, I too have a growing concern about the quality of the foods we eat, but I find that people from Asia naturally tend to eat in a much healthier way than Western people !

      Last but not least... I read your comment above and believe it or not, I see the dog ;) (though still looking for Audrey Hepburn) - you're an accomplished artist !

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    5. Oh, comment "below" actually :)

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    6. Oops late reply totally missed this. Hahaha I learnt something new too! Just as well I don't call someone a douche in France, he'll probably be more confused than offended.

      I think that's true about Asia in general, well at least we tend to have a lot more cooked than microwave meals. But I do think certain parts of the Western world relaly do love and appreciate their food too, liek the French!

      Hee hee I don't see the dog. Unfortunately.

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  11. Replies
    1. Thank you! Haha my friend spent an hour trying to see if there was a hidden picture inside. He saw a dog, and audrey hepburn. Yep.

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  12. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm chicken skin.... my favourite... these look stunning... but screw the blog, when are we getting a book from you!?! those STUNNING pictures and your beautiful, cheeky artwork... so good to have you back x

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    1. Oh if only you owned a publishing firm.. THANKS DOM! Made my day, so good to be back too x

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  13. Welcome back to the world of warm meals and REM sleep!! Actually, I'd love to hear about what exactly you were working on for your final project and portfolio. I'm at University of the Arts London where there has been a mad rush for final shows recently.
    Anyway, this is an adorable recipe! Your chicken skin illustration is especially endearing. Mmmm grilled asparagus—I can't wait to get my hands back on the sunny patio and grill back in Florida this summer. Asparagus is like the UK gold standard. I had to jump on the bandwagon before the season ended, so my next post is lined up to be an asparagus recipe as well :)

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    1. OMG are you? I'm at central saint martins, so same uni! It's a mad mad rush. The day we handed in, there was a queue at the printers in the morning from all the colleges. The guys there had a field day!

      Thanks so much! I'm so jealous of your florida sun and grill. Can't wait to see your asparagus post! It is the uk gold standard of vegetables. It's nuts, never sen people get so excited over a VEGETABLE.

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    2. No way!! I don't know why I didn't realise that earlier—I'm at Chelsea for Graphics! Amaaaazing. How does it feel to be finished? What are your plans now?

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  14. Glad you are back! And with such an original recipe ;-) I know more than one who would kill for a crispy chicken skin. Love the combination chicken skin + asparagus, the green makes you feel less guilty...

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    1. Hee hee hee. Really, it is very healthy....

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  15. So good to have you back! Oh I am a fellow chicken thigh / fat / chicken skin (and asparagus) lover... These look fantastic. Welcome back to the knife and fork world :-)

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    1. It's nice to be back Helene! Hee hee hi five for the thigh/fat/skin/asparagus.

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  16. Yay! you're back!
    I love chicken skin... it's naughty, but everything in moderation, including moderation itself, right? These yakitori looks fantastic!

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    1. Thanks Michael! I like the way you think :)

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  17. wow that looks great!!, but I would probably hesitate eating the skin.. though I used to love it grilled (I haven't had chicken for ages, hah)

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    1. Because of the texture/taste or the health aspect? If it's for the latter, really, it's NOT that bad for you!

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  18. We don;t get chicken with skin any longer but this looks and sounds invigorating.

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    1. Why don't you get chicken with skin?! Who's your butcher?!

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  19. Hi!
    You have a nice blog with awesome clicks. I have just started following you and it may be highly encouraging if you may follow me back.
    http://cookingwithsapana.blogspot.com
    Thanks
    Sapana

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  20. Welcome back! :) I hope it all went well... rather you than me, that's for sure though. Great dish as a way of a come-back... I adore chicken skin. Salmon skin I can't stand... seems so, I dunno... weird, eating it, but chicken is just om-nom-nom!

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    1. It's good to be back Charles! It went well, I think, well I would know in a few weeks time, let's all keep our fingers crossd eh? Thanks so much, glad you approve! It's funny I know a lot of people who would run away from chicken skin but adore salmon skin. I love both! Especially when it's a piece of salmon that's pan fried; the crispy skin is the best!

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  21. Hi Shu Han, this look finger licking good. I love chicken skin too, it sure taste delicious. Excellent picture.

    Have a fabulous week ahead.

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  22. Oh my goodness - I have never worked just with chicken skin - I can just imagine how wonderful this is. Cheers

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  23. Just got back from Kyoto, where I lived off a diet consisting of yakitori chicken and oolong tea. So good! please don't let them brainwash you about how "fat is bad for you", the science is coming in and their fraud is being exposed, showing that it is cheap carbs, not animal fat and protein, that you should avoid. try to buy chicken that did not grow up in a tiny metal cage, and you will be fine!

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