Recipe: "Chicken-on-a-Stick" with Fried Rice

As I explained in my last post, my family always celebrates our own Christmas on New Year’s Day, sharing a delicious dinner before tearing into presents. For the past few years, we’ve had this odd tradition of making what my mom calls “chicken-on-a-stick” for dinner on this day. I think it all started because of my brother—though he only lives about an hour away from my parents’ house, he doesn’t come to visit often, so when he is here, my mom always likes to make whatever meal he asks for, and this “chicken-on-a-stick” dish has always been one of his favorites. It’s simply chicken strips marinated in an Asian-style sauce, threaded onto skewers with pieces of green onion then cooked, and we serve it with a simple version of fried rice.

Perhaps the best part of this year’s meal was the well-planned gift-opening we did before making everything—my parents wanted us each to open one gift before we started dinner, and they planned it so that my mom opened up a rice cooker and I opened up pristine white plates that I’m able to use for plating for the blog. My brother and dad…well….Adam got new underwear and dad opened a tie or something…but hey, mom and I were certainly excited and the guys opened up some great gifts after dinner. Haha.

Serves: 4-6
Prep. time: Approx. 1 hour, 15 min.
Cooking time: Approx. 45 min.
Difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: Wooden skewers
Ingredients
For the fried rice:
  • Approx. 3 cups dry white or brown rice (makes 6 cups cooked)
  • Approx. 24 cocktail shrimp, tails removed, each cut into 4-5 pieces (you can use any sort of shrimp, so long as they’re properly cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces—cocktail shrimp are nice because they’re already cooked through, so that saves some time when making the fried rice)
  • Approx. 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, minced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
  • Sesame oil (enough to coat the bottom of a large pan; you can use any other lightly flavored oil if desired)
  • 1-2 tsp. butter
  • Soy sauce for flavor (add as much as you want to achieve the desired flavor and brown color in the rice)
For the chicken: 
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (we use low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6-8 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into long, thin (about 1-2 inch wide) strips
  • 1 & 1/2 bunches green onions, cut into 2 inch long pieces (see the picture below)
*Note: When using green onions, you trim of the little bit of root on the white end and then only use the white and lightest green parts of the stalk—that’s where all the flavor is. The green tops don’t have much flavor, but you can use some of it for color if desired.
Shrimp, green onion (short pieces for the chicken and minced for the rice), and garlic

The finished skewers

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sugar, sake, and minced garlic. Stir together, then add all of the chicken strips to the bowl and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge, allowing the chicken to marinate for approx. 1 hour. While they’re in the fridge, fill a long, shallow dish with water and set the wooden skewers in to soak. Preheat the oven to 400*F. When the chicken is done marinating, take it out and thread 2-3 pieces of chicken onto each skewer, separating them with pieces of green onion. Lay them side by side in ungreased, long, shallow dishes. Bake the chicken for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through. In the meantime, cook the rice according to package instructions (we used a rice steamer and made sticky rice, which worked out really well, but you can cook it any way you like—just be sure to time it so that the rice finishes right before the chicken does). In a large, deep pan or wok, over medium heat, add the sesame oil and butter, then add the egg and cook it, breaking it up into pieces as it cooks (2-4 minutes). Add the minced green onion and garlic and cook until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Add the peas and shrimp and cook for about 10 minutes, until warmed through. Add the rice last—we always set a cup or two aside to serve plain—and gently mix the ingredients into it. Add soy sauce until the desired flavor and color is reached and cook until everything is hot. Serve the rice alongside the chicken.

This dish takes a little time to pull together and you need to be careful with your timing so you don’t have one thing finishing way before another. The rice is incredibly simple and you could easily switch out or add in ingredients—carrots, cooked pork or another meat, and/or onion would all be great in this. You can also add more than just soy sauce to the rice—I’m sure there are some great recipes out there for a fried rice sauce, but we like to keep it simple with the soy sauce. The chicken can be grilled or baked, so this dish works any time of year. The rice and chicken both have great flavor from the garlic, soy sauce, and green onion and this meal is great for family dinners or a big party.

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