Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Less meat is more, as in Ping Gai Chicken

For me, the less is more theory applied to the eating of meat has kicked in. Taste buds appreciate the deliciousness of other flavors and the notion of sacrifice is gone. It helps that I know it’s also better for the planet that I and millions of others are eating less meat – obviously, millions of vegetarians have been in the forefront of that movement for a very long time.

Given my upbringing it’s a little surprising. The production of and the eating of beef were a way of life. Grandparents and father were cattle ranchers. On my way to vegetarianism? Probably not, but I’m simpatico with eating a lot less meat. More effort, though not a lot more time, is spent thinking about variety and flavor when putting together meals that aren’t so much meat dependent. With more variety on the plate there’s inherently more flavor. Yeah, more is more as a concept works too.

From Michael Pollen’s Food Rules, An Eater’s Manual, “Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasions food.” A quote from this small chapter: Meat, which humans have been eating and relishing for a very long time, is nourishing food, which is why I suggest “mostly plants, not “only”. It turns out that near vegetarians, or “flexitarians” – people who eat meat a couple of times a week are just as healthy as vegetarians.

As I look back through Mixed Greens’ previous posts, most main dish recipes in our archives are light on meat. It’s been happening for a while now – I just hadn’t taken notice, though I wrote about eating meat a couple of years ago. Intention for 2012 is to continue using a lot less meat in cooking. That means exploring new recipes, new flavor possibilities, and benefiting from more veggies.

For example, Ping Gai Chicken, boneless chicken thighs marinated with garlic, coriander and black pepper and then grilled or broiled. My Canadian-American sister made this the other night – awesome meal! – the recipe straight from her favorite Thai restaurant in Toronto, the Queen Mother Cafe. It can be made with more or less chicken. I can attest to the success of this one using a lot less.

We’re Eating Less Meat. Why? Mark Bittman, NY Times, 1/10/12.

Ping Gai Chicken Recipe

From the Queen Mother Cafe in Toronto

Ingredients: 2 lbs, instead of 4lbs, chicken thighs, boneless if you can get them, skin on. Use the smaller amount of chicken, which is still plenty for 6 – 8 servings.

Marinade ingredients: 1 bunch fresh cilantro/ 6 cloves garlic/ 1 T black peppercorns/ 3 T Oyster sauce/ 2 T soy sauce/ 2 T vegetable oil

Directions for chicken marinade: Put the washed bunch of cilantro, including stems and roots, into food processor with garlic and peppercorns/ Process until finely chopped/ Add oyster sauce, soy sauce and oil/ Process until combined/ Place chicken in shallow glass baking dish/ Brush all over with marinade/ Cover with plastic wrap/ Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator.

Dipping Sauce ingredients: 1 C water/ 1/2 C sugar (or use less)/ 3 sprigs fresh cilantro/ 2 cloves garlic/ 2 T white vinegar/ 1 T lime juice/ 1 T Thai garlic chili pepper sauce/ 1 T Thai fish sauce

Directions for dipping sauce: Combine water and sugar in saucepan/ Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until dissolved/ Continue cooking 10 minutes or until reduced and syrupy/ Cool completely/ Add to food processor with cilantro, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, garlic chili pepper sauce and fish sauce/ Process until smooth.

Directions for cooking chicken: Preheat BBQ to medium high/ (If broiling, preheat broiler and cook on wire rack set in baking pan or on cookie sheet.)/ Place chicken pieces, skin side down, on greased grill/ (Place skin side up if broiling.)/ Close BBQ lid/ Cook about 8 minutes or until skin is crispy and chicken is almost cooked through/ Turn chicken/ Close lid/ Cook chicken 6 minutes more or until cooked through/ Remove meat from bone if necessary, chop into 1-inch pieces/ Serve with dipping sauce.

Serve with any rice, or Emmer Farro. Make marinade and dipping sauce on Sunday afternoon and this is a quick meal on Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks to my brother for Michael Pollen’s book for Christmas and my sister for the Ping Gai dinner. Here’s to your own version of less is more in life and to your good health in 2012.

Tagged as: , , ,

2 Responses »

  1. yum; this sounds so good I can’ t wait to try it! We keep Food Rules right on our kitchen counter and refer to it all the time; I am a huge fan of how simple and strighforward it is.

  2. Pollan’s been on the food ethics and health bandwagon for a while now, since the early ninety’s if not earlier, so you’ve chosen a good mentor for the kitchen counter.
    And Vicki, this Ping Gai is soooo good.