I am admittedly a bit of a food geek, and nothing gets me more excited than talking about the biology behind flavors and taste. For a long time, scientists thought there were only four basic tastes that our taste receptors could distinguish, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. But over the past decade, another basic taste has become widely accepted as the fifth member of this group, and that is umami. Umami is an earthy, meaty taste. It is found in mushrooms, meat, and many fermented foods, and delivers a flavor that is best described as savory.
So, when I signed up to do a Blue Apron box, I was beyond ecstatic when I saw these drumsticks listed as one of the recipe options. For those of you unfamiliar with Blue Apron, its a weekly grocery delivery service that includes recipes and pre-portioned ingredients to go along with the recipes. It’s always seasonal, nutritious, and the dishes are very straightforward and easy to make (the recipe cards that come with the box are adorable and even provide some background info about the dish for food geeks like myself). The delivery is free, and the cost per person per meal is $9.99, much less than most restaurants, plus you actually know what goes into the food you’re eating.
I didn’t know what to expect from the dish going in, but I followed the recipe, tasted it, and immediately shouted to Jeremy in the other room to hop to it and try it. The umami flavor was out of this world, and was made even more delicious by the contrasting bit of sweetness from the final glazing of the chicken. The jasmine rice with the mushrooms & turnips was full of umami, too, just so wonderfully savory and earthy. There were some ingredients in here that I hadn’t heard of or used before, but am now going to immediately go out and purchase, (namely mirin, ponzu sauce, yuzu kosho, and ichimi togarashi spice), so this was also a really nice way to get introduced into some new-to-me ingredients.
If your schedule is very hectic but still want to eat seasonally and spend time in the kitchen, or if you’re just looking to start cooking for yourself and don’t really know where to start, I’d highly recommend checking these guys out. The box they sent also had a recipe + ingredients for croque monsieur sandwiches which were also equally tasty and amazing (Jeremy made them for dinner the next day), so I’ve taste tested several of these with deliciously pleasant results. And they’ve been kind enough to offer a $20 discount code for those of you interested in giving it a go, so now’s the time!
Glazed Chicken Drumsticks With Shiitake Mushrooms & Turnip Umami Rice
This Japanese-inspired main dish combined many of the world's most renowned Japanese seasonings with classic umami flavors like roast chicken and mushrooms. The depth of flavor of this meal is surprisingly deep considering the quick cooking time. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.
- 6 chicken drumsticks
- 3 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup jasmine rice
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 6 ounces turnips
- 2 scallions
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger root
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons ponzu sauce
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon yuzu kosho
- 1/2 teaspoon ichimi togarashi
- 1/4 teaspoon white sesame seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon black sesame seeds
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix together the ichimi togarashi seasoning and sesame seeds.
Place the chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet and drizzle them with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle each one with a pinch of the togarashi spice blend, saving a little of the spice blend for later. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 32 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the fresh produce. Remove and discard the stems of the shiitake mushrooms, thinly slice the caps. Trim and discard the bottom of the scallions, finely chop the remainder. Peel the turnips and cut lengthwise into wedges. Peel and mince the ginger root. Set them all aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mirin, ponzu sauce, sesame oil, and as much of the yuzu koshu as you would like (the more you add, the spicier the final dish will be).
- While the chicken continues to cook, you can prepare the rice. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add half of the diced fresh ginger root and cook until fragrant, a couple minutes. Add the rice and 1 cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 14 to 16 minutes or until the rice is tender and cooked through. Remove from heat and fluff the rice gently with a fork. Set aside.
- As the rice cooks and the chicken finished roasting, you can prepare the mushrooms and turnips. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium pan. Add the mushrooms and turnips and season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned, stirring occassionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining ginger and the white parts of the scallions and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and wipe out the inside of the pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the yuzu kosho mixture to the bowl of cooked mushrooms and turnips, then add the cooked rice and stir until coated. Set aside.
- Place the same pan you used to cook the vegetables over medium heat. Pour in the remaining yuzu koshu mixture and add the cooked drumsticks, turning to coat them in the glaze. Divide the chicken and rice between two dishes. Garnish the dish with the green parts of the scallions and remaining togarashi spice blend and serve immediately.