Cardamom-Soy Chicken Thighs (or Shrimp!)

This blog post features a recipe and photo from Runamok Maple. See the original recipe HERE

You can purchase Cardamom Infused Maple Syrup online or in our store.

 

 A Quick, Beautiful, Delicious Chinese-Inspired Entree, featuring Runamok Maple Syrup

“One bell that American Chinese food always rings is to satisfy that craving for sweet and salty over fried whatever.” That quote comes from the recipe blog of Vermont's award-winning Runamok Maple Syrup at RunamokMaple.com, where co-owner and French Culinary Institute-trained chef Laura Sorkin offers a simple, quick, and very delicious riff on craveable American Chinese cuisine. Laura  hits the nail on the head: sweet-salty-fried; that's exactly why I love to order Chinese!

The featured recipe is “Sauteed Shrimp with Soy-Cardamom Maple Glaze” and, just as Laura claims, it could hardly be easier. Prep your shrimp, coat it in cornstarch, have your glaze (and cooked rice!) ready. Heat oil in the pan, toss in the shrimp, followed shortly by the soy-maple syrup-ginger glaze, spoon it over your rice, and – wow! - dinner is served. Sweet. Salty. Fried. Heaven.

Laura visited Port Plums the other day, and prepared this recipe for us in our Demo Kitchen. It took six minutes to cook on our Fagor induction burner, and only a few minutes more for us to eat it all up. We took a bite, stopped for a moment to smile, nod, and go, “Mmmm!”- savoring the flavors – and then we gobbled it up!

The subtle but important key to this dish's tastiness is, of course, Runamok's exquisite maple syrup. Laura prepared our shrimp using the cardamom infused maple syrup. Exotic but versatile, certified organic, and addictive, this blend of warm spice and luscious maple is simply yummy. Laura suggests adding this infused syrup to curry recipes, or a mixed drink, or as an ingredient in “Cheater's Chai” (find that recipe on her blog). That warm-sweet combination invites all kinds of delicious speculation: how about adding it to apple pie? Or bread pudding? Or pork roast? Salmon? Hmm!

Anyway, today is Valentine's Day, and I've chosen this recipe for supper. I want to make something special, but it can't be complicated, because I'll be at work all day. The table is set and my rice is ready (I made it in the Lekue Grain Cooker, which we sell in the store. You fill it with grains and liquid, pop it in the microwave, and walk away: awesome! I can add more water or extra minutes if it's needed, with no worries about burning or stove-top boilover.) My ingredients are prepped and I'm ready to cook – but with a twist: I'm substituting chicken thighs for the shrimp.

 I pounded boneless, skinless chicken thighs with a meat tenderizer (probably an unnecessary step), chopped them up, and proceeded exactly according to Laura's recipe, taking extra minutes to make sure the chicken was cooked through. Then I swerved from the recipe one more time! I added chopped, frozen spinach to the pan, and a couple handfuls of cashews. As soon as the spinach was hot, dinner was ready. It looked beautiful, and it was ready in a flash!

And the verdict? My Valentines (husband and two sons) and I agree: “Yum, yum, yum!” Warm cardamom compliments the rich dark meat; the complex sweetness of maple is a perfect foil for salty soy sauce. Add the slight sour/bitterness of spinach plus the crunchy umami of cashews and it hits all the notes for a perfect dish: sweet-salty-bitter-sour-umami, wow!

As one son (a person of very few words) said with a grin: “That turned out well.” Thanks, Runamok, for an easy-going keeper of a recipe, for Valentine's Day and any time you crave quicker-than-takeout sweet-salty-fried satisfaction!

 

Linda Davis Siess

Events Coordinator and Staff Associate, Port Plums