Most people talk about the five essential tastes: sweet, savory, salty, sour, and umami. But there is a sixth taste that makes even a simple chicken dinner something memorable: love.
Love is the most powerful ingredient in your kitchen. Love pairs with everything from fish to waffles to tomato soup. Love is more precious than black truffles and lobster. Not to mention way less expensive. Love is always in season and always sustainable. Love is something that everyone can afford, that everyone can share, and that everyone can eat. There are no restrictions on love. And you can never use too much of it.
Love is my favorite salt substitute.
So before you get carried away with other resolutions this new year, I want to throw something out there — forget about doing more, doing less, doing something specific. And make 2013 about love. It’s a must-have item for any low-sodium eater.
Because cooking low-sodium means you are loving yourself. Showing other people how to cook low-sodium for you means letting them love you. And helping low-sodium newcomers tackle the diet with enthusiasm means passing that love forward.
Today, the American Heart Association is launching their big 3-Week Sodium Swap Challenge. With blog posts (by yours truly) and an active Facebook page, the AHA is giving the old low-sodium diet a makeover. They are debunking myths. They are focusing on the can do’s instead of the cannot’s. They are motivating newcomers. And giving low-sodium pros, like all of you, a platform to share your tips on keeping a flavorful low-sodium diet.
And this month, I encourage you to post, tweet, and shout from the rooftops all the reasons you love low-sodium living. Share your mishaps, share your aha moments, share your favorite grocery store items, and share your favorite recipes — both the ones you’ve made and the ones others made for you.
And prove that while low-sodium lacks salt, it is filled to the brim with love.
LOW-SODIUM SESAME CHICKEN, BLACK RICE, AND BOK CHOY
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1½ teaspoons Chinese five spice
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ smoked paprika
- 4 large garlic cloves, sliced into thin almond shapes
- Toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup black rice
- ¼ sweet yellow onion, diced
- ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt-free garlic powder
- ¾ lb bok choy (about 3 big bundles), ends trimmed and leaves cleaned
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 green onion, bulb removed and thinly sliced
To begin, mix the Chinese five spice, black pepper, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Then give your chicken thighs a nice massage with the rub and set aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a nonstick skillet. When sizzling, add the garlic slivers and let them crisp and brown, watching carefully so that they do not burn, about 1 minute per side. Remove the garlic and let them drain on a paper napkin.
With all that garlic infused sesame oil in the skillet, reheat the pan over medium-heat and when hot, add the chicken thighs. Set the timer and cook 15 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, place the black rice, yellow onion, grated ginger, garlic powder, and 2 cups of water in a rice cooker and cook (about 20 minutes) until the rice is edible but still has a bit of toothy bite.
Fill a small pot with a cup of water and place a steamer basket so it stands just above the water line. Add the bok choy, bring the water to a rolling boil over medium heat, and cover with a lid. Steam the bok choy for 5 minutes and then carefully remove the slightly softened leaves from the pot and set aside.
When the rice is cooked, scoop it into a small bowl and add a teaspoon of sesame oil and the rice wine vinegar. Give it a gentle mix until everything is combined.
To serve, place the rice onto a plate, layering the bok choy and sliced Chinese five spice chicken over it. Sprinkle with green onions and garlic chips for crunch and serve while warm.
+ Sodium Count: Chicken thigh (with skin): 87mg per 1/4 pound