Barbarian Chicken: be prepared!

Tori Namban Zuke 2013

Tori Namban Zuke 2012

Tori Namban Zuke 2011

Tori Namban Zuke 2010

Tori Namban Zuke 2010

Tori Namban Zuke 2009

Tori Namban Zuke 2008
Tori Namban-zuke is a versatile Japanese recipe that I love!I have prepared this Japanese marinated chicken at least once per year since 2008!
tori namban-zuke 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

This recipe is easy, but allow time for the chicken to marinate over-night. It will keep in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make it ahead in preparation for a busy day at work, or even better, for a party. The recipe has evolved over the years. I’ve made it with chicken thighs and breasts. I’ve fried, baked, poached, or steamed the chicken. I’ve served it hot, and cold.

  • hot with rice and umebosh
  • or serve with some of the marinade over fried or mashed potatoes or with sweet potatoes, baked or mashed
  • serve it cold with somen, udon, and dipping sauce
  • add diced chicken to chicken soup, perhaps with a bit of the spicy marinade for a spark of flavor
  • make sandwiches with thin slices of the chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and garden tomatoes.

Chicken in Spicy Vinegar Marinade
Tori Namban-zuke

from: The Japanese Kitchen
•250 Recipes in a Traditional Spirit•
by Hiroko Shimbo
page 415
serves 8 to 12

The original recipe is meant to serve 2, but because this can be a planned second (even third) meal, I have adjusted it for making several meals.

The Chicken

  • 3 ½ pounds skinned and boneless chicken thighs

If you use thighs with skin, prick the skin with the point of a knife. In that case I dust a little salt over the skin, then rinse and dry it before frying.

The Marinade:

  • one 3″ square kombu, soaked in 1 ½ cups water for 2 hours
  • 1 ½ cup rice vinegar (komezu)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (shoyu)
  • 5 small dried red chile peppers (akatogarashi) [3], seeded and sliced into thin rings or 1/2 tsp. cile pepper flakes

Remove the kombu from its soaking liquid. Discard the kombu. In a saucepan, bring the kombu stock, rice vinegar, sugar, and shoyu to a very gentle simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the chile. Reserve.

The Cooking:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 naganegi long onions, white parts only, or young thin leeks, or green onions, cut into strips 1 ½″ long

Heat the oven to 350°F.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the long onions and cook over medium heat until they are slightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and add to the marinade.
Heat the oil in the skillet again. Brown the chicken on both sides, paying special attention to making the skin nice and golden. For skinless thighs, a quick very hot sear is enough. If you want to try this recipe with skinless, boneless chicken breasts, then I’d suggest steaming them to cook—white meat gets dry and tough with dry heat.
Remove the chicken from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
Transfer the chicken to an oven-safe dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked.

Cool the dish until you can add the marinade without fear of shocking the glass (ie: cracking). Refrigerate overnight or for as long as 5 days.

Cut the marinated chicken into slices, and serve it cold, accompanied with negi and a generous amount of vinegar marinade. Or reheat the uncut chicken in a steamer or microwave and serve with fried potatoes and smooth French mustard.

A little history of this recipe:
The years between 1549 and 1639 are sometimes called the Namban Period in Japan. Chinese and “Southern Barbarians” (Namban—the Portuguese traders) were permitted to trade only through the port of Nagasaki.
The Portuguese empire, built for profit and trade, extended to Brazil, parts of Africa, India (Goa), South East Asia, and Japan. This trade brought many new foods and spices from one part of the world to another; of interest in this case is piri piri (small, fiery chilli peppers). The hot red peppers influenced the flavors of many cuisines, including Portugal itself. The small red peppers in Japan are called akatogarashi.
Eventually (Protestant) Dutch and English traders encroached on the (Catholic) Portuguese trade with Japan. This led Japan to enter a 200 year period of seclusion, retaining the Dutch as the sole Western trading agents.
and that is another story…
Oh, and “zuke” means “to pickle” or “marinate with vinegar.”