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First Autumn (from August 7): Cure your fatigue!

Even though summer is waning, people are usually suffering from some level of heat exhaustion by this time. The sour and spicy sauce for this dish, inspired by 16th-century contact with Spanish and Portuguese explorers, is sure to provide a "kick" to keep you going into the fall!


(Also interesting is that, in Japan, chicken breast is less expensive than dark meat.)


As with many Japanese dishes, preparation and technique play an important role.



For example, slicing the chicken on an angle, similar to sashimi, affects the texture and makes a larger surface available to the quick marinade. When julienning the vegetables, stacking them at an angle results in a more attractive shape.


INGREDIENTS


1 chicken breast (about 300 grams)

Onion, carrot and bell pepper (40-50 grams each)

2 tablespoons potato starch

1-1/2 tablespoons cooking oil

Salt and pepper to taste


For sauce:

4 tablespoons soy sauce

4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

100ml dashi

1 teaspoon dried red chili


DIRECTIONS


1. Poke chicken breast with a fork, then cut diagonally as shown. Put into a zip-lock bag with 200ml water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 teaspoons of sugar and refrigerate for 15 minutes.


2. Slice the onion thinly (with a mandolin or similar tool), julienne the carrot and bell pepper, and microwave them all together for 1 minute.


3. Combine the vegetables with all of the sauce ingredients and mix well.


4. Remove the chicken from the fridge, pat dry, and sprinkle with white pepper and salt to taste.


5. Coat the chicken lightly with potato starch, and saute for 2 minutes on each side (until browned).


6. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and vegetables, and return to the fridge (for a minimum of 15 minutes, but it will be even tastier after a couple of hours).



Garnish as you like, and serve in a glass dish to help give a sense of "cool".


MAKE IT A MEAL - balance textures, colors, flavors!


Continuing with the theme of "cool", here are a couple of suggested side dishes that could round things out:


First is Japanese sweet potato simmered with lemons and honey in vegan dashi. The creamy, starchy texture of the potato helps to fill your stomach without too much effort. The yellow color is also a nice addition.


Second is raw cucumber and tomato with a shio koji (see our ingredients list) and sesame oil dressing. These flavors are a good balance against the spicy and sour of the chicken, and once again we can enjoy the colors of fresh summer vegetables.


To remove the bitterness from the cucumber skin, before slicing, sprinkle the cucumber with salt, roll it gently on the cutting board and let it sit about 10 minutes. Rinse the salt away and then use.


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