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Say 'aloha' to your chicken

Published May 15. 2013 05:03PM

In addition to lots of bulky amplifiers, guitars and other stringed instruments, my husband brought a little bit of Hawaiiana into our marriage. Before we met, he lived on the island of Oahu for about 10 years. He embraced the lifestyle there, which celebrates not only the culture of the Hawaiian natives, but those of Japanese and Portuguese descent, as well as other Pacific islanders.

Jim has shared a lot of the recipes he learned while living in Hawaii. One of his favorites, which is one of the most popular dishes on the island in some form or another, is known as "Shoyu Chicken." The word "shoyu" is soy sauce in Japanese. Naturally, this dish is primarily soy sauce, but it is also kissed with a little wine, sugar and oriental seasonings.

One of the interesting flavors in this dish comes from the Chinese star anise, which is one of the key components of Chinese Five Spice Powder. It smells and tastes like licorice, and is similar to regular anise, but is stronger. It is grown in China and Japan, and is made from the seed pod of an evergreen tree. Each "star" has eight points. For this dish, you would break five points off the pod.

I haven't always been able to find star anise at the grocery store, but I purchased a bag of about a 1/2 cup or more at a local farmer's market for just a couple dollars.

It is easy to make, and may soon become a family favorite. We also use this recipe as a chicken marinade, and then instead of simmering on the stove for a couple hours, we grill it. It's delicious either way.

One word of warning, however, in my opinion, when you first start to cook this dish, it stinks a bit, so don't be alarmed. It may just be me, but if it doesn't smell quite right in the beginning (I think it's the combination of soy sauce, garlic and spices), I promise, it gets much, much better! Also, the finished dish doesn't taste like licorice, so if you aren't a fan of licorice, you may still enjoy Shoyu Chicken.

I chose the second recipe this week because it has a tiny bit of Asian influence as well. This Spinach Salad with Strawberries is a summertime favorite of mine. Before you make the dressing, taste the strawberries, if they are nice and sweet, use a little less sugar. If they are early (or even winter) strawberries, then you may want to add a little more sugar.

This salad is always a hit at cookouts and pot luck dinners. I haven't brought it to one event where I haven't been asked to share the recipe at least once.


Shoyu Chicken

2 cups soy sauce

1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth)

1/2 cup sugar

5 points star anise

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped

Pinch of red pepper flakes

4 pounds chicken pieces

Hot cooked rice

Combine all ingredients, except for chicken, and bring to a boil. Add chicken and simmer about 1 1/2 hours, until chicken is falling off the bone. Serve over rice with sauce.

Spinach Salad

with Strawberries

1 12-ounce bag of fresh spinach

1 pint of strawberries, washed and sliced

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

For dressing:1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon red onion, chopped

teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

teaspoon salt

To toast sesame seeds, spread out on a dry cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. They should be a nice golden brown.

Wash and dry spinach. Add strawberries and sesame seeds.

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour over spinach salad just before serving and toss.

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