Wasabi Chicken

Just about everybody who has eaten wasabi, also known as Japanese horseradish, undoubtedly remembers the first time as an unforgettable dining experience.

The first time I had wasabi was probably 30 years ago at a sushi bar in Denver. I was there with a friend, Bob Frederickson, who fancied himself as a sushi aficionado. It didn’t take me very long to understand why.

I fell in love with sushi almost immediately, especially liking the kick that the green wasabi that accompanied the seafood gave me.

Wasabi has an extremely strong flavor, its burn more akin to that of a hot mustard than that of the capsaicin in a chili pepper. It also has the tendency to stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue.

These days, I get my fill of sushi at Little Bangkok, a restaurant in East Grand Forks that specializes in Thai food. We go there once or twice a month, and I usually dine only on sushi.

I recently found out that the green wasabi served with sushi is usually white wasabi powder mixed with colorants and mustard. I happen to have a small spice bottle of it in my cupboard and have been wondering what other uses it could have other than with sushi. Then, I came across the following recipe, which looks like the perfect vehicle.

Wasabi Chicken
3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 teaspoons wasabi powder
¾ pound boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 teaspoon canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Mix mayonnaise with the wasabi powder and set aside. Flatten chicken to ¼-inch thick with a meat bat, the bottom of a heavy skillet or your palm.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sear it 4 minutes. Turn and sear the other side for 4 minutes. Salt and pepper the cooked sides to taste. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees.
Remove skillet from heat and place chicken on a plate. Drizzle the wasabi sauce over the chicken. Cover with another plate or foil to keep warm until the vegetables are ready. Use the same skillet for the accompanying side dish.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 306 calories, 47 percent of calories from fat, 16 grams fat (2.1 grams saturated, 6.7 grams monounsaturated), 108 milligrams cholesterol, 36.5 grams protein, 1.9 grams carbohydrates, 0.3 grams fiber, 305 milligrams sodium.

Pan-Roasted Ginger Corn and Broccoli
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced (about 1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Add the oil to the nonstick skillet used for the chicken and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, corn, broccoli and red pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil and cover with a lid. Cook 5 minutes, turn vegetables over and cook, covered, 5 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Note: This dish may also be prepared by placing all the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwaving on high 6 minutes. Remove and toss with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 226 calories, 13 percent of calories from fat), 3.3 grams fat (0.8 grams saturated, 1 gram monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 9 grams protein, 48.1 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 47 milligrams sodium.