Updated: May 3
When am I most inspired?
After a winter of looking at root vegetables, chefs welcome, ehh, beg for something green and fresh to work with. The answer to that problem is Ramps. Wild leeks, other wise known by their street name as "ramps" are highly prized by chefs. It's an unspoken race to see who can get these mild garlicy tasting leafy greens on their menu first....and foragers know this. First of the year ramps can fetch upwards to 20 plus dollars a pound but will quickly come down in price as harvesters try to unload as many pounds of these fragrant plants as they can. Like anything these guys need to be suitably harvested. Most people will dig up the entire plant selling root bulb and top together. Now, I'll be first to say I truly do love pickled ramp bulbs, however! This plant is incredible hard to grow (there are no commercial farms as far as I know), and takes an astounding 7 YEARS to regenerate. So when harvesting, best just to take the tops. In fact in certain parts of Europe it's ILLEGAL to harvest the root bulb. Now there are many other things that come up first, wild garlic, garlic mustard green, stinging nettles to mention a few. But the ramp trumps all these in the culinary world.
Seeing that right now is a tough time to be a chef (thanks Corona virus) I did a little at home experimenting (well actually I ran out of garlic) and I came up with a awesome recipe for Ramp and Tangerine chicken for dinner tonight.
Ramp and Tangerine Chicken
1 lbs Chicken thighs cut into pieces
1/4 lbs Rough chopped Ramps
1 Tangerine peels with peeler
1/4 C Sambal
2 T Soy or Tamari
2 cups Rice flour
1 T Chinese 5 spice
1/2 C Rice wine vinegar
1/2 C Honey
2-3 C Canola
1) Heat oil in heavy bottom pan on Med/Low heat
2) Combine rice flour and Chinese 5 spice in a bowl and toss chicken in to coat well
3) peel tangerine with peeler and set peels and segments aside
4) When oil is hot add as may pieces of chicken as pan will allow without over crowding pan and cook chicken till golden brown and crispy (careful not to get the pan too hot and burn the flour), placing cooked pieces on a plate with paper towel to soak up grease. repeat until all chicken is cooked leaving oil in pan
5) Add Sambal and tangerine peels to oil and cook for 5 min continuously stirring.
6) Stain out oil through cheese cloth or clean towel
7) Place Sambal and peels back into pan (keeping pan on med/low heat the whole time) and add soy/tamari, honey, and rice wine vinegar, let simmer for 2-3 min
8) Add chicken, tangerine segments and ramps to sauce and coat well