by Deirdre Marlowe
Many of us travel for the sights, many for the people, and all of us, admit it, travel for the tastes of it. It’s hard to find a bad bakery in France, nearly impossible to find a bad mango in Thailand, but sadly, it’s too easy to find unconventional pizza in Hungary. At lunch in Budapest one day our waitress brought a bottle of ketchup with our pizza, “In case you want more sauce on it.”
Traveling in Japan and staying with many hosts, we quickly grew to appreciate the subtleties of Japanese cuisine. We enjoyed many meals and even gained an appreciation of umeboshi plums with rice and a fried egg in the morning. Our favorite meal was prepared for us by host Kenzo on one of our last nights in Tokyo. I have been making Chicken à la Kenzo or variations on it ever since. Serves 4. Prep and cool time 1 hour. Can simmer for longer if need be.
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 medium onion sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 lb. sliced white mushrooms or sliced Asian eggplant
Vegetable oil for sautéing plus 1 tsp sesame oil
½ cup chicken broth
1/3 cup miso (of your preferred color)
½ cup red or white wine (determined by miso color)
Salt/soy sauce and pepper to taste.
Pat chicken dry. Sauté in oil turning once until golden brown. Remove from pan. Add onion, garlic and brown sugar to pan, sauté until onions begin to wilt. Meanwhile mix chicken broth, miso, and wine together until miso is blended in. Add mushrooms or eggplant and sauté until soft. Add liquids. Return chicken to pan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook turning chicken once for 45 minutes. Add salt/soy and pepper to taste.
For a vegetarian option, substitute 1” cubes of firm tofu cubes for chicken. Add them after all the veggies have been softened, the liquids mixed and simmering. Reduce cooking time to 30 minutes.
Of course, it’s not just a matter of the recipes you take home with you, but also the food you cook for your hosts. It could be a recipe for something that’s traditional in your family, something that shows your immigrant roots, or something perhaps from the list of all American foods that can be made almost anywhere in the world like apple pie, clam chowder, baked beans, fried chicken, or all-American mac ‘n’ cheese.
What have you made for your hosts? What substitutions have you made? Tell us the story and share your recipe. If you haven’t cooked for your hosts, perhaps you’ve brought back a recipe or two. Share those – let Open Doors’ readers be your table companions.