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Aharoni’s Asian Chicken and Cucumber Salad

I grew up in Maryland, and was awed and inspired by Julia Child when her television program "The French Chef" began in 1963. I was hooked on her program and began cooking from her recipes, many of which I still use today. With the onset of Covid-19, Mako (Channel 12) began broadcasting a series of cooking programs starring Israel's top celebrity chefs and Master Chef judges Israel Aharoni, Michal Ansky, Chaim Cohen, and Eyal Shani. Each day, one of them prepared a delicious looking 3-course meal in under an hour (all the while answering viewers' questions) and viewers who prepared ingredients in advance were invited to "cook along with the chef". I love watching the chefs as they professionally prepare food and I found many great recipes. The recipes are all available online; many of them accompanied by short, easy-to- follow videos.

The recipe I'm sharing is from Israel Aharoni. Aharoni was Israel's first celebrity chef. Among other things, he studied cooking in Taiwan. When he returned to Israel in 1981, he opened Tel Aviv's first Chinese restaurant, Yin Yang, on Rothschild Boulevard. I remember celebrating our first year in Israel there and being very amused by his Chinese attire, long braid and enormous eyebrows. When we asked him what he recommended, he built the perfect menu for us, and everything was delicious.

Aharoni is not just a talented chef. He writes a weekly food column in Yediot Aharonot, has written more than 30 well-loved cookbooks, and has owned popular gourmet restaurants in Israel. He has developed and hosted several popular cooking programs on Israel television. He is also well known for his travel and cooking programs which have taken him all over the world, exploring and documenting international cuisines and cooking styles. I'm especially fond of his Asian and his native Bukharin recipes. His recipe for Asian Chicken and Cucumber Salad is surprisingly easy and absolutely delicious. It is with his permission that we share it with ESRA readers.


Aharoni's Asian Chicken and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

4 cucumbers

200 gm ground chicken thighs (for a vegetarian version substitute cubes of silky tofu)

3 tablespoons cooking oil

1 tablespoon ginger, sliced into matchsticks and diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced into matchsticks

½ small red onion, diced

½ chili pepper (or to taste), sliced

Marinade for chicken

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Tehina sauce for salad (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons raw tehina

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, finely grated

1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated

¼ cup water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For serving

Coriander, chopped

Sliced green onions or chives

Sesame seeds – gently roasted in frying pan

Method

  1. Cut cucumbers lengthwise and then into ½ inch zigzag pieces. Put them into a colander with 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. In a bowl, blend the chicken marinade ingredients together.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat the oil, and when it's hot add the ginger, garlic, onion and chili pepper.
  4. Add the ground chicken thighs, salt and pepper. Sauté together well, until almost dry. Add the soy sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar. Keep sautéing until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to partially cool.
  5. Mix together the tehina sauce ingredients.
  6. Drain the cucumbers and mix with the chicken mixture.
  7. Add the tehina sauce.
  8. Place on a serving platter and garnish with chopped coriander, green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
 

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Thursday, 05 August 2021

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