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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

5 Star Makeover: Black Plum Sauce, Nectarine Whole Wheat Couscous, and Oven Roasted Chicken

I'm not going to talk about my busy schedule but instead about the nice weather this past weekend. It reached 88 F! It wouldn't be exciting if it wasn't for the fact that Seattle rarely has nice weather. Everyone was out and about and we appreciated the sunshine more. (okay, this part sounds depressing). Outdoor activities are huge in the Pacific Northwest. No matter what season it is we are able to find stuff to do outside. Although we have a short summer, the activities are packed in. Keith just bought a jet ski so we took it out but it died on us twice! Yeah, I was on the marine patrol boat twice and people looked at us like we were arrested on some sort of drug crime. hush.


It's that time of month again with the 5 star makeover with Natasha @5 Star Foodie and a co-host Lazaro at Lazaro Cooks. This month theme is farmers' market. When they announced the theme, everyone got so excited except me. Why? That's a good question...First, I didn't know what I wanted to make. It didn't ring a bell. Second, what was I going to do with peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, and summer vegetables. I mostly eat them fresh and I couldn't make up my mind to pick those as a main ingredient. I admit shamelessly I was a little stressed. You know, It's like when you were in school and you didn't quite know what to do with a school project while your friends were enthusiastic and moved by the project.

"Crap" I thought to myself. C'mon, you just have to go find inspiration at any market or maybe go dine at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that's the kind of thing to motivate yourself. So, I went to my favorite market and saw tons of nectarines and peaches so I bought some. The other time I went again I got black plums. I still didn't know what to with those yet. So, I started eating nectarines fresh and cut them into a container for snacking. After upon thinking for some time, plum sauce that is served with a fresh roll came to mind. I can do something with those plums!

Black plums and cherry tomatoes

I don't know how you create your concoctions but for me here's how it works:
  • Pick a main ingredient
  • Pick a cuisine style. This will help you narrow down other ingredients and seasonings to go with.
  • Pick a side dish and look for what you have on-hand.
So, I chose black plums and wanted to keep my style for Asian--Japanese/Chinese. Other ingredients started lining up like picking candidates for a job interview. This one looks good, keep it; that looks bad, pass.

That's how I got cinnamon stick, star anise, soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, mirin and such in the sauce. 

For chicken, I preferred skin-on, bone-in chicken since I chose to roast it in the oven for the juicer meat -and you can't say no to crispy skin! C'mon, it's Summer. That means it's time to get messy. Shredding meat from the bone by hand is the classic art of eating chicken! (okay, you can use fork and knife *wink*)

Peeled, diced plums

Here comes the side dish. I was lucky to find this whole wheat couscous at Trader Joe's a few days earlier. Man, I don't go to Trader Joe's that often due to location and accessibility. They have good stuff with good deals. If they happen to read this, please open more locations specifically in Renton, WA!

Since I also have nectarines, it wouldn't hurt to put some in the couscous. Oh yeah, I have homegrown mint in my backyard that needs to be used. So, I added mint. I've realized that when you get your act together (from not knowing what to do with those plums), everything flows out from your brain. You just need to get started. That's why they say the beginning is the hardest, huh?

This plum sauce works well with all kinds of meat. I tested with chicken, beef, and pork. They were scrumptious!



Black Plum Sauce, Nectarines Whole Wheat Couscous, and Oven Roasted Chicken

Ingredients for Plum Sauce:
4 black plums, peeled, diced
1 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbs black soy sauce
3 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger

Directions for Plum sauce:
  • Heat up small sauce pan over high heat. Add everything in a sauce pan. Bring it to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 20-30 mins until the sauce is reduced by half and thicker. Use wooden spoon to mash plum if needed.
  • Remove cinnamon stick and star anise.
  • This will make about 2 cups. It was enough for my chicken, beef, and pork. The sauce can be kept in a refrigerator for a week.
Plum sauce
Ingredients for Nectarine Whole Wheat Couscous:
1 cup chopped nectarine
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup chiffoned mint
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 Tbs butter
1 cup chicken stock

Directions for Nectarine whole wheat couscous:
  • Cook couscous by package instruction. For this recipe, I brought stock and butter to boil. Turn off the heat and removed pot from the heat. Poured couscous. Mixed well. Covered for 5 mins. 
  • Use fork to fluff the couscous. Mix in red onion, mints, tomatoes, and nectarine.
Nectarine couscous
Ingredients for Roasted Chicken:
4 quarters skin-on, bone-in chicken
Salt, pepper, and five spice powder
olive oil

Directions for Chicken:
  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and five spice powder. Go easy with salt. Don't sprinkle too much as the sauce will add more flavor to it later.
  • Drizzle olive oil over. Bake skin side-up for 40 mins.
  • Brush chicken with the plum sauce half way through and when the chicken is done.
  • When the chicken is done, turn off the oven and brush with plum sauce. Put it back in the oven and close. Leave it there for another 5-10 mins.
Assemble:
  • Spoon couscous on the side of the dish. Place chicken on another side and drizzle the sauce over or serve on the side.


Here's when it's done with beef kalbi and pork belly

Nectarine couscous was served with plum sauce glazed boneless kalbi

pork belly that I cooked by following instruction from Lazaro --230 F for 2.5 hrs
Oh boy, those pork were scrumptious and melted in your mouth!






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24 comments:

lostpastremembered said...

Looks super Tanantha and I love the way your mind works. Although I am often doing very specific recipes for the blog (since I do many historical recipes) when I cook for myself I often do it just like you did... see what's good and build on that.

Love the fresh plum sauce on the chicken... something about roasted meat and fruit ... well they are meant to be together. Perfect dish that rises to the challenge brilliantly!

Faith said...

That plum sauce you made looks incredible! I think that would be fantastic on so many things and now I'm dying to try it! :) Love that beautiful couscous too.

Your photos are really gorgeous, I love the way the light is dappling in.

Lazaro Cooks said...

That's how you do it. Awesome. Well thought out and executed. That plum sauce is so versatile. Love the roasting on the chicken, looks perfect. I agree with roasting on the bone and nobody can turn away crispy skin.

The pork belly is sublime.

Great job!

Angie's Recipes said...

This looks fantastic, esp. that plum sauce!

Magic of Spice said...

This plum sauce is wonderful and I am crazy for your beautifully infused couscous! Works perfectly with you gorgeous chicken :)Excellent use of the challenge!
Hugs

Pachecopatty said...

Hi Tanantha! I just read over your recipes and realized that I have everything on hand to make this except chicken and couscous I just bought 4 large black plums at the farmers market last night. I will get the chicken and couscous to make this for dinner tomorrow, can't wait- it looks so good. Thanks for sharing your recipe,Patty

Jessica said...

You shouldn't have worried! The end result looks mouthwatering!!

The most challenging thing is to turn farm fresh vegetables and fruits into a delicious dish (without just eating them raw ;)) and you did it perfectly! Oh goodness and look at that pork belly. Mmmmm.

Lori Lynn said...

A fabulously inspired summer dish. Can't believe you had trepidation. It rocks!
LL

Marisa said...

Hey Tanantha! You sure did come up with an amazing dish for not being sure what you wanted to do at first. It always happens that way, right? I like how you break down you thought process when it comes to creating dishes. You have really smart ideas to get the ball rolling. I love couscous and although that roasted chicken looks great, the kalbi and pork belly are really calling my name!

Roxana GreenGirl said...

if you ask me I think you did a wonderful job on this challenge. Everything looks great! Wish I lived closer to have a small bite!

Monet said...

I don't know what sounds better...this meal or 88 degrees! It has been over 100 degrees for over 40 days now! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful meal. You did a smashing job. I love the sound of that plum sauce.

Trix said...

Well you certainly overcame your early mental block that's for sure! I guess the thing I loved about this challenge was that it was sooo open, you could build it however you wanted. I would be happy to get that plate of yours in a restaurant!

Erica said...

Your photos are really gorgeous, I love the way the light is dappling in.

San Diego Catering

Priscilla - She's Cookin' said...

Love this! The crispy-skin chicken with succulent black plum sauce. I've been using a lot of fruits to flavor starch and protein since hubs is on a serious low-sodium diet - you really rocked the challenge as always!

5 Star Foodie said...

To me, this just looks like an ultimate summer dish! Your black plum sauce is spectacular, what a brilliant concoction! All the components on a plate look amazing and compliment each other perfectly.

Evan @swEEts said...

Oooh that looks good Tanantha!! I wish it got to 88 here.. it reach 110 the other day! Mountain Man does have an interview coming up in Seattle though!! Fingers crossed :)

angela@spinachtiger said...

The plum sauce so called to me, I pinned it on pinterest. Delicious entry.

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ said...

for someone who was lacking inspiration and was stressed with this month's challenge, your sure shined! I looooove all of the flavors in this. I'm glad it's not plain couscous, rather one with full-bodied flavors and textures! and you went the extra two miles and did more twits! go!

Kate@FudgyGoodness said...

Wow Tanantha, this looks incredible! I've just discovered your site and love all the recipes I've seen so far. Wonderful photography too. I'm now following you on Twitter ;)

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

Oh that plum sauce looks divine. I love seasonal fruit in a main dish like this. Everything looks amazing.

Table Talk said...

Ooh this black plum sauce sounds amazing! Definitely going to try this one Great addition to this month's challenge!

Daily Spud said...

Have to admit that I got a bit stressed thinking about this challenge too, though it somehow came together in the end! Meanwhile, I'm loving the sound of that black plum sauce, there are lots of things I imagine it would be gorgeous with.

bonnie at sweet life said...

the couscous is awesome, but I am loving the plum sauce..oh I can think of so many great dishes to use this fab sauce!!

LeQuan said...

Hi Tanantha!

Sorry, it's been a while. Still trying to catch up to my blog reading after my vacation and then minimal Internet access. So cool that you guys got a jet ski. Sorry you got stuck twice though.

Your plum sauce sounds amazing. Love that you tried it with different kinds of meat. The presentations and photos are beautiful, Tanantha! You've sure turned a "have no clue what to do" recipe into a keeper recipe. Way to go, my dear! Keep up the great cooking.

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