The Gleeful Gourmand: Easy (Asian) Chicken with Broccoli

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Easy (Asian) Chicken with Broccoli

When our son was about 1 year old, we gave him his very first taste of hummus. Both my husband and I love hummus, and it seemed natural to let our son try it, especially since we had heard that hummus was great to give to babies for exploring new and different tastes and textures. He tried a couple of small bites, seeming to enjoy it.

A couple of minutes later, I looked over and noticed his lips looked a little different, as if there was a blister forming. I asked my husband if it had been there before, if he had hit his lip on anything, and we both agreed that he had not. We watched in horror for the next couple of minutes as more blisters appeared and his lips swelled to the size of Angelina Jolie's. Realizing that it was an allergic reaction, I immediately called the pediatrician on-call at our doctor's firm. I described his symptoms and she asked me calmly if he was breathing okay (yes, his breathing was just fine, in fact, he looked quite happy except for his doubled-up lips), and then asked me to list what he had been eating.

I listed everything, and when I got to the few bites of hummus she interrupted and said, "Yep! He's allergic to hummus. Give him some Children's Benadryl immediately." We did this, and as we watched the medicine take his lips back down to a normal size little by little, she explained, "It's actually the sesame oil - tahini - found in hummus that he's probably allergic to. It's a lot more common than you'd think."

Up until this point we hadn't been too cautious in what we fed him, but we obviously knew not to give him anymore hummus, or things that had sesame seeds on them. Fast-forward two years, and after going through a much more serious and scary ordeal with Tilapia, we had him tested for everything under the sun. In addition to most fish, shellfish, and tree nuts, it showed that he is highly allergic to sesame seeds and sesame oil.

Now, fish, shellfish, and nuts are relatively easy to avoid. Sesame seeds and sesame oil show up in everything  from crackers, bread, and some chips, to rice mixes (Far East, I'm looking at you). We had to learn how to be incredibly vigilant about each box and bag of food that passed his way. We also realized that we could never really take him to any Asian restaurants, because most Asian foods are made with - yep - sesame oil. Which brings me to the point of this post. Both my husband and I love Asian food - all of it, actually. Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese - you name it. But how could we start introducing him and the girls to really good Asian food, and avoid this allergy? I decided to start collecting recipes and try my own hand at it, beyond the ordinary stir fry.

First up we have this Easy Chicken with Broccoli recipe. It comes via All The Cooks, which is a great social cooking app. The thing that I love the most about this recipe is not only how delicious it is, but how the marinade you soak the chicken in while readying all the other components breaks the chicken down into the most delicately succulent bites you could ever imagine. I marveled at the way my wooden spatula cut as easy down a piece of this chicken as if it had been a pat of melting butter.

Chicken, sautéing gently in a wok.

Broccoli, fresh and tender, is quickly seared for a moment or two, bringing out all the gorgeous, vibrant green hues. It adds a much-needed crunch factor, and thanks to the awesome sauce you pour over the top, even my kids gobbled up the stalks (of course, it helped that we made them pretend that they were giants and they were eating trees).

Searing the broccoli quickly in the wok and then removing it is what gives you that gorgeous green color.

We served this on a bed of brown rice, and it was a major family hit. My son declared it one of the best meals ever. My only suggestions about this recipe would be to take note of the sugar content. It uses both regular sugar and brown sugar, and after making the dish a couple of times, I actually scaled both of these back by half: I don't like Asian food to be too cloying - it can sometimes mask all the other delicate flavors trying to shine through. I also didn't use the suggested red pepper flakes - which may have helped cut the sweetness - but I didn't want it to be too spicy for the kids. You could also experiment by tossing other veggies in the mix.

Easy (Asian) Chicken with Broccoli

Keep checking back for more additions to other Asian foods I'm cooking - without the sesame seeds and sesame oil! You can get the recipe for Easy Chicken with Broccoli by clicking here.



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