Garlic-Ginger Chicken Breasts with Fresh Lime

Garlic-Ginger Chicken Breasts with Fresh Lime
Copyright 2006 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. All Rights Reserved

4 servings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 large shallots, or 1/2 medium onion and 2 large cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 to 2 fresh jalapenos, or serrano chilies, seeded (optional)
2 tablespoons cold-pressed vegetable oil
Extra oil for the sauté
Juice of 1 lime

1. Place the chicken in a plastic storage container. In a blender or food processor puree all the other ingredients (except the oil for the sauté) with a little water. Scrape over the chicken, turn pieces to coat thoroughly and cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes to 24 hours.

2. Lightly film a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan and heat over medium high. Add the chicken, not letting the pieces touch. Sear on one side for a minute or so, turn and lightly brown on the second side.

3. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook, turning the chicken once, 10 minutes (if the meat threatens to burn, add a few tablespoons water), or until the pieces are just firm when pressed. Serve atop rice noodles or salad, finished by squeezing lime juice over everything


Jalapeno chilies have a citrus flavor and run from medium-hot to hot. Serranos taste tarter and have even more kick. Leave in seeds if you want full-on, hot chile heat. Remove them to temper the pepper a little.

The browned bits that form in the bottom of the pan as the meat cooks are pure gold as the base for a quick pan sauce. Set the chicken aside once it is done. Deglaze the pan by adding a small amount of liquid like chicken stock or white wine, scraping up the glaze on the bottom of the pan as you go. Reduce the liquid over high heat until syrupy then spoon the sauce over the chicken.

Glaze the chicken by swirling 1/2 cup of passion fruit juice into the pan once the meat is done. Boil it down until syrupy and pour over the chicken. The juice will pick up all the great tasting bits in the pan. Good tasting tropical fruit juices boxed in paper are coming into markets. They are especially fresh tasting.

A sauté is a sauté, no matter the language it speaks. The technique invites improvising with different meats and fish and seasoning combinations that please you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Salmon Basil Sauté: Cook thick cut (1 1/2 inches or so), salted and peppered salmon steaks exactly the way the chicken is done, except start them with a handful of basil leaves in the pan. Before covering the salmon, add some thinly sliced garlic. Fish usually cooks at 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Finish with fresh lemon juice to taste.

Italian Pork Chop Sauté: Use olive oil to coat the sauté pan. Quickly brown thick-cut pork chops with salt and pepper, then add a little chopped onion, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, a cut up tomato, and about 1/3 cup white wine. Reduce heat so the liquid barely bubbles, cover the pan, and cook until the pork is just firm. Don't overcook or you'll have shoe leather. Remove the chops from the pan, boil down the pan sauce and pour it over the chops. Garnish with rosemary branches.

Moroccan Lamb Sauté: Rub thick-cut lamb chops with a blend of salt, pepper, sweet paprika, cumin, coriander and olive oil. Cook exactly as described in the chicken recipe except do not cover. Cook over medium low until an instant-reading thermometer inserted in the center of a chop reads 125°F to 130°F for medium rare. Let the meat rest 5 minutes outside the pan before serving.