There are some things the microwave oven does really well. Steaming chicken is one of them. When it comes to cooking very lean chicken, like breast meat, the microwave is unbeatable. (Check here for basic chicken cooking instructions in the microwave.) We add flavor with a quick and simple marinade and the chicken cooks in minutes. There's no browning, but that is OK. Small pieces of chicken would dry out too much anyway.
The marinade is a tasty combination of garlic, ginger, cumin, and olive oil with just a hint of mustard. You only need to marinate it for 15-30 minutes. The original recipe says it can marinate for up to 2 days but even after 24 hours, the texture suffers. I wouldn't go beyond an hour. If you don't want to bother with skewers, arrange the chicken piece in one layer on a microwaveable plate and cook just like the skewers.
Here's a tip on mincing or grating fresh ginger: peel the ginger knob with a spoon (works better than a vegetable peeler or a knife) and then freeze the whole thing. Once the ginger is frozen, it's less stringy and the ginger will keep forever in the freezer.
Ginger Chicken Kabobs in the Microwave
( serves 4-5, costs $5.65)
1 ½ pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 fresh green hot chile (Serrano or jalapeño), seeded and minced (optional)
½ teaspoon dry mustard or 1 teaspoon brown or Dijon mustard
About 1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Cut the chicken into strips about ¼" thick.
Combine the olive oil, ginger, garlic, cumin, chile (if using), mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Add chicken strips and coat with marinade. Cover bowl and marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
Thread chicken strips onto wood or bamboo skewers. Don't pack the chicken too tight on the skewers because it won't cook through in 4 minutes. The chicken pieces should look like a wavy line. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Arrange on a microwaveable dish and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Flip over the skewers, re-cover, and cook for another 2 minutes on high. Let stand for a few minutes. Serve by pouring any accumulated juices over chicken.
Adapted from Morghul Microwave by Julie Sahni, William Morrow, 1990.