This was what I served one weekday evening; chicken skin crackling カリカリ雛皮, cucumber, daikon and carrot asazuke with shio konbu 塩昆布入り胡瓜の浅漬け, cucumber in vinegar dressing with crispy jako 胡瓜の酢の物カリカリ雑魚乗せ. I previously posted all items or similar ones. These are perfect appetizers for sake and also take care of the suggested “daily requirement” of eating a serving of vegetables, (although the chicken skin crackling may nullify the benefit of the fresh vegetables).
We like any crispy skin especially salmon or chicken skin (although we have to admit we are not “into” pork rinds). When I prepared 4 chickens thighs for my wife’s chicken curry, I removed the skin and boiled it in salted water spiked with a dash of sake. This boiling serves multiple purposes, it renders some of the fat, reduces the gamey chicken flavor of the skin and kills any potential bacteria on the surface so the skin lasts longer before cooking. After 5-10 minutes of boiling, I washed them in cold running water, put them in a Ziploc bag and kept them in the meat compartment of the refrigerator. This preparation makes it relatively easy to prepare chicken skin crackling even on weekdays. I just place the skin on a non-stick frying pan without oil on medium low heat. I then nest an identical frying pan with the bottom covered in aluminum foil on top of the chicken skins (for flattening the skin as well as preventing splattering). Toward the end of cooking I sprinkled on some salt.
Since I had some previously frozen “jako” already thawed in the refrigerator, I also decided to use it. I cooked a small handful in a small amount of vegetable oil for several minutes until the jako became crispy. I then drained them on a paper towel. I thinly sliced some cucumber (American mini-cucu) salted it, wrung out the excess moisture and dressed it in sushi vinegar. The fried jako provided a nice little addition of crunchiness.
The only addition for this asazuke from the previous versions I posted is the inclusion of salted kelp or Shio konbu.
This was a good starter for sake. (I burned the edge of the crackling a bit but it was still ok—I guess it would take more than a light singeing to lessen the delightful combination of fat and crunch of both the jako and chicken skin in this dish).