At the risk of sounding boring, I’m going to whine anyway. The rainy season is so darn late, the air is heavy with moisture, the humidity is punishing and I’m taking short cuts with our meals. I figured that the less ingredients I use, and if I can do away completely with chopping and slicing and mincing, the better I’d feel.
This chicken dish has no more than five ingredients and I was so happy with it until my daughters came home for the weekend and I served it to carnivorous Alex. She declared that it was bland. Bland how? I asked. With everything, she said. I understood. She probably meant it tasted FLAT and I laughed. That’s the thing when your children grow up with dishes brimming with the flavors of rich spices and the brightness of fresh herbs. They learn to be discriminating and they’ll never be happy with short cuts.
I told Alex quite amusedly that it was a quickie dish with soy sauce, Sriracha and honey. No garlic, no chilies, no herbs… not even freshly ground pepper. It’s what Americans would call a pantry dish — something cooked with pantry basics. Well, as easy as it was cooking the darn chicken dish, I learned a very important lesson. With home cooking, you can’t up the ante, so to speak, and then arbitrarily lower the standards and not have anyone notice.
To be fair to Alex, she ate the chicken with a healthy appetite anyway. I’m sure that as flat as it may taste to her trained taste buds, it was still better than the fast food stuff they get in the school area.
Here’s how I made the dish.
First, you brown the chicken in a pan. No need to add oil. Just make sure that that the pan is hot then lower the chicken pieces, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt. Keep the heat high, don’t move the chicken around during the first five minutes to let the heat do its thing to the skins. Then check if the skins have started to turn golden. If they have, flip them over, then allow the opposite sides to brown lightly too.
Then, pour in the soy sauce and Sriracha. I used a 1:1 ratio; you can experiment with a ratio that you like better. How much soy sauce and how much Sriracha? That depends on how much chicken you’re cooking. I was just eyeballing everything as I cooked.
Cover the pan, lower the heat and let the chicken cook. It usually takes only about 20 minutes because the chicken had been partially cooked during the browning part. You don’t need to add water. The chicken will expel a lot of water during cooking. If you’re not aware of it yet, commercial chickens are injected with water before they are packed to make them look plump and attractive. As shocking as it may sound, it’s standard business practice.
When the chicken is done, transfer to a serving bowl. To the sauce in the pan, stir in enough honey to make a good balance between salty, spicy and sweet. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken, garnish with snipped scallions and voila!
I said five ingredients, didn’t I? Let me count… chicken, salt, soy sauce, Sriracha and honey. That’s five. The scallions are optional.