Coriandered Chicken with Mustard Sauce
(i don't care for cilantro, so i use italian flat leaf parsley instead)
1 3/4-2 pounds fresh whole chicken breasts, with skin on and bone in (to yield 3-3 1/2 cups shreds)
for cooking the chicken:
2 nickel-size slices fresh ginger
1 thin whole scallion cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 pound firm sweet-smelling tomatoes (use 3-4 small), or 1/2 point firm sweet-smelling cherry tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1/2 pound firm seedless cucumbers, or 1 pound firm cucumbers with seeds
1 bunch fresh picture-perfect coriander (or flat leaf italian parsley)
2 teaspoons freshly toasted sesame seeds
cooking and chilling the chicken: rinse the breasts and put them in a heavy pot that will hold then snugly. lightly smash the ginger and scallion to spread the fibers and bring the juices to the surface, then add them to the pot with enough cold water to come 3 inches above the chicken. bring to a rolling boil over high heat, reduce to maintain a steady simmer, and simmer the chicken uncovered for 25 minutes. about 3 minutes before the chicken is done, fill a large bowl with 2-3 trays of ice cubes and enough cold water to cover the chicken. once the chicken is done, remove it from the pot with tongs and plunge it immediately under the ice. chill, submerged for 15 minutes. drain and pat dry.
shredding the chicken: discard the skin, then remove the meat from the bone in a s much of one piece as possible. remove the thin membranes encasing the breast and fillet, and discard any tendons or fat. by hand, shred the meat with the grain into strips 2 inches long and pencil width. if you need to work in advance, the shredded chicken may be sealed airtight and refrigerated overnight. bring to room temperature before serving.
slicing the vegetables: slice the vegetables just before assembling the salad, so they are fresh and perky when served. cut larger tomatoes in half lengthwise, then core. place cut side down, then cut across the width into slices a scan 1/4 inch thick. if working with very large tomatoes, cut the slices in half lengthwise to make them manageable. cut cherry tomatoes in half lengthwise to one side of the stem, then slice off the stem mark. if the cherry tomatoes have pretty stems, leave a few of the stems intact for color. cut the pepper in half lengthwise, and remove core, seeds, and ribs. place cut side down, then cut across the width into thin slices 1/8 inch thick. trim the cucumbers and peel them if they are waxed. seed, if necessary. cut the cucumbers into strips, half circles, or seeded arcs cut off the lower stems of the coriander/parsley, just above where they are tied. was the sprigs in cold water, pat or spin dry, then discard any imperfect leaves. chop the leaves and upper stems coarsely into 3/4 inch bits. i like to drain the wet veggies, like cucumber and tomatoes, so the salad does not get too wet.
Dijon mustard sauce:
1/2 cup mild unflavored dijon mustard (Maille brand mustard)
1/2 cup chinese or japanese sesame oil
2 T unseasoned chinese or japanese rice vinegar
1 T plus 1t chinese rice wine or quality dry sherry
fine sea salt, to taste
blend the ingredients until thoroughly emulsified, in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel knife, in a blender, or by hand. taste and adjust with salt. let mellow several hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight in a clean, airtight container. use at room temperature for best taste and bouquet. For best consistency, whisk or return briefly to the processor or blender before each use. i add this right before serving. it makes plenty of sauce.
Assembling the salad:
toss the chicken with the sesame seeds. then either toss with all vegetables and the mustard sauce and plate. or arrange in separate mounds, chicken, vegetables, etc. for others to assemble. personally, i like it fully assembled. serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. i like to toss it all together pretty close to serving time, again so that it looks fresh, doesn't soften, or get wet.