100 DAYS! June 30/2020

Apparently it is 100 days since we began our incarceration! Makes me think of people in prison, for whatever reason. What do they do,what do they think? Although we were in strict Lockdown for what 10 weeks, 12 weeks, it is at the point where I don’t really remember. Waking up, thinking “What day is it”. But can you imagine, being in a situation where it doesn’t matter what day it is, I just can’t. At least despite having our freedom severely curtailed, we could buy groceries, wine, beer, in fact we could buy almost everything we wanted/ needed and more.

I actually ventured out, all by myself today, the third time since mid March ! A very strange feeling indeed. I didn’t go far, but it was eerily quiet ( and I live in the centre of London) some shops were open and some closed permanently I think. The Beautiful Paddington Street Gardens, has gone from spring green and primroses to summer colours, where did that time go ?

I wish I had thought of dinner before venturing forth as I subsequently decided on Bang Bang Chicken. This brought me back to Houston Texas, where in a restaurant aptly called Houstons, my favourite salad was Bang Bang Chicken, actually it wasn’t called that, it was just grilled chicken with peanuts sauce, it was sweet , nutty and spicy all in one. On returning to the UK I discovered that the IVY, the restaurant of the stars ( and Rich and Famous and me) has Bang Bang Chicken in the menu !

The late AA Gill, published a couple of recipe books ( he might have done more) one from Caprice ( sister to the Ivy) and one from the IVY. The Ivy recipe version is OK but not quite right and other versions that I have found are also not quiet right, so I combined a couple, missed out a few bits and bobs and came up with my own.

For me the problem was that the recipe requires PEANUT BUTTER, preferably smooth and unadulterated. When we moved from Texas to Belgium I had a problem, then with Peanut Butter. Whilst in Texas, my kids became Americanised, demanding peanut butter and Jelly ( Jam to you and me) or peanut butter on Celery sticks, also with jam. The jam is essential, as PNB can be very cloying. In Texas I bought a brand called Laura Scudders, it was unadulterated, whereas Skippy, which is the best selling of PNB in CHINA , and it contains a whole load of Junk, corn syrup, sugar, soy protein, salt oils and other added extras.

I resorted to making my own. Very simple, buy, salted roasted peanuts, purée them in a food processor, sometimes necessary to add a few drops of oil to aid processing.

However, being extremely lazy, I didn’t want to go out and about just to buy peanuts, or peanut butter, but I had red skin peanuts. Roasted them in the oven, rubbed off the skins, puréed them, hence my PNB was ready.

To make Bang Bang Chicken you will need:- quantities are a bit hit and miss, depending on how many people you are making it for !

But for two people

  1. 6 chicken thighs, skin on, roasted left to cool
  2. 100 grms smooth peanut butter
  3. 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
  4. a tablespoon of each, sesame oil and vegetable oil ( I use olive)
  5. A tsp e@ch of 5 spice powder and star anise powder ( both optional just gives a bit more Umph to the sauce. If unavailable add some chilli powder.
  6. 2 carrots peeled and sliced finely
  7. 2 spring onions cut into strips
  8. 1/4 cucumber cut into strips
  9. A small handful of sesame seeds
  10. Optional extras, cherry tomatoes, sliced avocados
  11. Small amount of rice vinegar

Of course you can be really lazy and use bought rotisserie chicken, cut into bits. However if you are cooking the chicken yourself, thighs are tastier than breast but after cooking remove the skin and de-bone and shred the chicken.

Put the peanut butter into a heatproof bowl and stand in a pan of Hot water for about 5 minutes for the butter to soften, remove from heat, stir in the chilli sauce and spices and then the oils, stir until well blended ( May use a whisk or handheld blender). Make sure that Not A Drop of water gets into the PNB as the merest drop, will make it seize up ( just like chocolate) and there is no salvation to start over. ( me? Of course I heat mine gently in the microwave, no water there then).

Put the vegetables in the vinegar to soak for 5 minutes, drain. I then use a bed of lettuce, arrange my vegetables and chicken on the salad, , spoon over the sauce and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

Another point to remember is, Do Not Store either the Peanut Butter, nor any remaking sauce in the refrigerator.

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