K’s Kitchen – Sour chicken and eggplant

Ever feel like you are too hot and tired to do anything during the summer?  In Japan, we call this  “Natsubate” (夏バテ). “Natsu” (夏) means summer , and “bate” comes from the word “bateru” (バテる), which means “I’m about to collapse from exhaustion”.  Natsubate is a real issue in Japan, and there are many traditional strategies on how to combat it.Everyone knows that you need to eat in order to have energy to do anything, but many people lose their appetites in the heat.  You could eat light foods all day long, but many of these are lacking in protein and vitamins.  One traditional way of making food more appetizing is to use vinegar to give it a light taste.

(adapted from Cookpad)
Ingredients:
2 Japanese eggplants
300g chicken thigh meat
salt & pepper to taste
corn or potato starch
sesame seed oil

For the sauce:
100ml rice vinegar
1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons sugar
1.5 tablespoons mirin

Instructions:
1. Chop the eggplants in “rangiri” style.  This is a very typical way to cut up vegetables in Japan, and increases surface area to ensure even cooking. Also, it is supposed to look random although it definitely isn’t.
Here is a video by the Japanese food company Ajinomoto.

2. Keep the cut eggplants under water to prevent discoloration.  Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, and sprinkle with salt and pepper

3. Drain the water from the eggplant.  Lightly coat the eggplant and chicken with starch.  Saute in a frying pan with sesame seed oil.

4. Once the chicken is browned and cooked through, mix the sauce ingredients together and add to the frying pan.  Simmer until reduced.

Although this recipe includes some sugar, it is much less sweet than your typical sweet and sour dish.  The sweetness cuts through the acidity a little, but the dish is meant to taste sour.

Hope you enjoyed this recipe!

xoxo, K

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