Reparations and Preparations

America must recover from our own storm-related devastation, but I've still had Japan on my mind a lot during this late spring. I lived there for a few years; back when youth was my best friend and companion.  That experience instilled in me a respect for and curiosity about culture and food. 

I've been meaning to whip up a big plate of yakisoba to blog about. The spicy noodles are Japan's best street food, but I've yet to match the flavors I remember. Instead, last night we dined on Panko chicken strips with a big green salad and an herby dressing that hinted of summer gardens and hope.

Panko Chicken Strips
Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into strips
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
Canola oil

Salt and pepperWhisk together eggs, buttermilk, and Old Bay Seasoning; set aside.  Pour Panko into shallow dish; set aside.  Heat oil in large pan with high sides (to test whether the oil is hot enough, stick the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil; when bubbles form around the handle and float up, the oil is ready).

While the oil is heating, soak chicken strips in the buttermilk and egg mixture.  When oil is ready, roll chicken in Panko and gently place in oil.  Work in batches so that the pan does not crowd. Fry both sides until they are golden brown and crisp; drain on cooling rack placed over paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

Avocado-Herb Dressing
1 avocado
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if desired
1/2 cup buttermilk
Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon Penzey's Creamy Peppercorn seasoning
Big bunches of fresh dill, cilantro, chives, and basil

Blend or process all ingredients.  Serve as salad dressing, dip for vegetables or chicken and fish.


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