TIME WAS when you would have had to make a trip to a Chinese market to get the ingredients for this meal-in-a-hurry.Now some of the larger markets are stocking a reasonable selection of Chinese ingredients that go beyond American soy sauce and canned water chestnuts.
But even if you have to make a special trip to Chinatown to get the special ingredients, you won't have to make another for a long time. A jar of hoisin keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator. Chinese vermicelli, like Italian pasta, has a long shelf life as well.
If for some reason, you have hoisin but no vermicelli, and don't want to make a special trip to a Chinese market, especially if you have to do it on the way home just before dinner, you can substitutes Italian vermicelli. All of the other ingredients should be readily available at the local supermarket.
If you would like to turn this meal into one for company by adding a quick hors d'oeuvre at the beginning and an equally speedy dessert at the end, allow another 10 to 15 minutes and you will have a meal for any company someone in the family decided to ask for dinner at the last minute.
Otherwise, just serve fruit for dessert.
THE MENU: Chicken, sweet peppers and hoisin: spinach with sesame seeds; vermicelli; orange, mango or strawberries.
HAVE ON HAND: Soy sauce, dry sherry or apple juice, vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, onion, sesame seeds, salt.
YOU WILL NEED: 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts or turkey breasts, 4 red and/or green peppers, hoisin sauce, 1 1/2 (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 1/2 pounds loose spinach, 4 or 5 ounces Chinese vermicelli or 6 ounces Italian vermicelli, (orange, mango or strawberries).
ORDER OF PREPARATION: Cut up chicken; combine soy and sherry and marinate chicken in it. Mince garlic and ginger; chop union; cut up peppers. Prepare spinach. Bring hot water to boil for vermicelli. If using Chinese, pour water over. Saute ginger, garlic and onion in hot oil. Add peppers. If using Italian vermicelli, cook. Steam spinach. Add chicken to peppers; cook. Add water, marinade and hoisin; continue cooking. Toast sesame seeds. Drain spinach; mix with sesame oil; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Drain vermicelli. VERMICELLI (3 servings) 4 or 5 ounces Chinese vermicelli or 6 ounces Italian vermicelli Salt, if desired
Bring 3 quarts water to boil. Pour over Chinese vermicelli and allow to sit for 15 minutes until vermicelli is tender. Drain and serve.
Or add Italian vermicelli to boiling water and cook, uncovered, until all dente, about 3 minutes. Drain and serve. CHICKEN WITH SWEET PEPPERS AND HOISIN (3 servings) 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts 3 tablespoons soy sauce 3 tablespoons dry sherry or apple juice 1 large onion 2 tablespoons minced ginger 1 large clove garlic 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 4 red and/or green peppers 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
Slice chicken on diagonal in thin slices, less than 1/4-inch wide. Mix the soy and sherry and marinate the chicken in that mixture. Chop onion coarsely, mince ginger and put garlic through press. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes, until onion is soft. Seed peppers and cut into strips less than 1/4-inch wide. Add to skillet. Cook about 3 minutes and stir once in awhile. Push to side. Add chicken without marinade and cook until it loses its pink color. Add water, marinade and hoisin. Reduce heat and cook a minute or two until peppers are crisp-tender. SPINACH AND SESAME SEEDS (3 servings) 1 1/2 (10-ounce) packages fresh spinach or 1 1/2 pounds loose spinach 2 teaspoons sesame seeds Salt, if desired Few drops sesame oil
Wash spinach; remove tough stems. Toast sesame seeds. Steam spinach just until limp in its own liquid. Drain thoroughly, pressing out excess moisture. Season with salt, if desired. Toss with sesame oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.