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Monday, July 25, 2011

Asian Plum Sauce and Simple Mu Shu Chicken

This was the spring of cherries. I have a big cherry story coming your way. I'll be sharing all I've learned about cherries this year. Meanwhile, I missed the peak of a lot of other spring fruits - blueberries and apricots to name two. I've been much luckier with summer fruits because of the excellent generosity of some tree owners. My friend, Paula, lives next door to a nice man with a plum tree and a white peach tree. He's very happy to trade fruit for jam. I spent all day last Saturday in the kitchen and this Asian Plum Sauce is one of the projects I made with his plums.
My inspiration came from Put 'em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton, a canning and preserving book that is great fun to read and use. I altered her recipe slightly. Because my mom's plum tree produces little plums, about the size of a cherry, we never pit and chop them. We simply simmer them down with a little water and then run them through a food mill to capture the pits and skins. I processed these large plums the same way. I don't mind chopping when it enhances the finished product, but for this, smooth plum pulp was more desirable anyway. She starts with 2 pounds of fresh plums, but I started with 4 cups of prepared plum pulp. She also grated her ginger into the mixture, whereas I used whole spices to fish out at the end. The plums I used were very sour, so I reduced the vinegar from 1/2 to 1/4 cup.
This sauce came out so tasty! I will be making more of it for sure! This batch is rather small and only resulted in two 12 oz. jars. I know as soon as folks taste it, they will want some to take home! Luckily my mom has 5 one-gallon freezer bags full of plums in her freezer waiting for me!

Asian Plum Sauce
4 cups prepared plum pulp
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 slices of fresh ginger
1-2 garlic cloves
1-2 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon

Prepare jars and lids for two 12 oz. jars more smaller jars to equal about 24 oz. Prepare the boiling water bath.

Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until it is reduced and thickened to a consistency similar to ketchup. This will take 20-30 minutes at a medium simmer. Stir often to prevent scorching. Remove the spices with a slotted spoon. Ladle into prepared jars, wipe rims and top with lids and rings. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let them remain in the boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Carefully remove to a towel lined tray and set them aside over night to seal. The next day, check the seals and label.

Simple Mu Shu Chicken
(This is not authentic but pretty darn yummy!)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. corn starch
2 tbsp. canola or peanut oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, cut into long shreds
1/4 of a large only, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
6 small, thin whole wheat tortillas
Asian Plum Sauce
Cilantro sprigs to garnish

Slice the chicken into thin strips and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and corn starch. Stir this mixture into the chicken pieces and marinate for about 20 minutes while you prepare the vegetables.

Heat a large skillet or wok to a high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan then add the chicken. Saute or stir-fry the chicken for about 5 minutes then add all the veggies. Continue to saute/stir-fry until the veggies are tender crisp. Remove from heat.

Warm the tortillas. Spread with about a tablespoon of the Asian Plum Sauce then fill with the chicken mixture. Top with fresh cilantro sprigs.

Makes 6 wraps.

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