Beating the rubber chicken blues

Beating the rubber chicken blues

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:06 pm

By J.M. HIRSCH AP Food Editor Remember all those cookbooks from the ’80s that promised gourmet microwave meals in minutes? We all know they were mostly full of it. Reality is, most of us have rarely met a microwaved chicken that didn’t come out better fit for bouncing than eating. And don’t even think about beef. Yet these utterly ubiquitous cookers somehow have become the go-to tool for so many of us. Which probably is because we’ve become a nation of reheaters. But the microwave does have a place in (mostly) from-scratch cooking, too. It can be a huge time saver when used right. As with any kitchen appliance, it’s all a matter of playing to the microwave’s strengths. For example, it is an easy way to gently steam vegetables. Toss some evenly sliced or chopped veggies with a splash of water and seasonings, cover and nuke for a couple minutes for a great side. It also helps that food technology has caught up with the microwave. Various food companies now offer quite respectable microwave-ready white and brown rices. Those can be huge time savers. As for proteins, seafood and tofu seem to handle microwaving best. That’s partly because seafood cooks so quickly, and tofu needs no cooking beyond heating to a desired temperature. This recipe for peanut shrimp combines instant rice and jarred peanut sauce with cooked shrimp and prepared thinly sliced broccoli (intended for slaw, but just as good on its own) for a great meal ready in minutes. If you’d rather make your own peanut sauce, it’s simple. In a blender, combine about 1 cup of peanut butter with about a teaspoon each of soy sauce, hot sauce and white or rice vinegar (more or less of each, to taste). Blend until smooth, adding a bit of water to get desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. MICROWAVE PEANUT SHRIMP WITH RICE Start to finish: 20 minutes Servings: 2 1 1/2 cups broccoli slaw mixture 8.8-ounce package microwave rice 12 cooked, peeled shrimp 8-ounce jar prepared Thai-style peanut sauce 1/4 cup salted peanuts 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro Hot pepper sesame oil (or other spicy seasoned oil), for seasoning In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, combine the broccoli slaw with 1 tablespoon water. Cover and microwave on high for about 2 minutes, or until heated through and softened. Remove from the microwave and set aside, leaving it covered. Prepare the rice according to package directions. Remove the rice from the microwave, leaving it covered in its container. Place the shrimp in a shallow bowl. Add the jar of peanut sauce and toss to coat. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir, recover, then heat for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until hot. To serve, divide the rice between 2 serving plates, spreading it to cover most of the plate. Spread half of the broccoli slaw over each mound of rice, then top that with half the shrimp and peanut sauce. Garnish each serving with peanuts and cilantro, then drizzle with hot pepper sesame oil. Editor’s note: J.M. Hirsch can be e-mailed at jhirsch@ap.org. Published in The Messenger 7.18.08

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