Miso Chicken Salad Sandwich

This summer truly feels like a global warming sign. After playing two hours of tennis today in the humid and hot air, I was ready for getting take-out. But since I am on a budget now, I reluctantly forced myself to scavenge my fridge for dinner inspiration. After some Rainier cherries and orange juice, I was cooled down enough to think creatively. I usually buy chicken whole and cut it into parts myself -- typically breast meat for stir fries, thighs for roasting, and drumsticks and wing parts for stews. And oh, don't forget the chicken tendorloins! These are the tendor strips of meat underneath the breasts, usually made into fried chicken fingers. I was going to cube them and stir fry them with cucumber chunks. But high heat cooking with oil just seemed wrong today. I thought of a chicken salad sandwich with cucumbers and sesame sauce, which really didn't appeal to me at the moment. I placed the bag of frozen chicken in warm water to thaw while I dragged my sweaty self into the shower and pondered some more...

Miso! I wanted the fermented flavor but I was not interested in soy sauce. The pungency of miso just seemed right for a salad. It has the good consistency for making a clinging dressing, but it has a brighter taste than the richness of sesame paste or peanut butter. For the refreshing taste of salad, I had to add some vinegar. To balance it all, I would have used mirin, a japanese cooking liquid that is basically rice wine with sugar with the alcohol boiled off -- the salty miso and sour vinegar deperately called for some sweetening. I was out of mirin, so I used honey instead. It was a nice replacement with an unexpected result, and I dare say that I liked it even better.

Recipe: Miso Chicken Salad Sandwich

3 Japanese cucumber (or one English cucumber with seeds removed)
4 chicken tenderloin (strip of meat under the breast)
1.5 Tbsp of dark miso
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1. Boil a large pot of water. Drop chicken into the water. Let it boil for another 30 seconds and then cover and turn off the flame. Let sit for 3-5 minutes and take chicken out when it is done. (no pink color inside)
2. Cut cucumbers into matchsticks. Shred chicken when it is cool enough.
3. Combine miso, vinegar, and honey. Mix well. Toss everything together. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Refrigerate if desired.
4. Serve salad on bread or as a side dish. Try to drain out excess liquid when serving.

Note: Japanese cucumbers have less seeds and more pronounced flavor then English cucumbers. If you must use the English cucumber, remove the seeds first. The salt in miso draws the water out of cucumbers. This liquid should be drained.

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