Disclaimer:: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Millennial Central for Kirin. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I admit, I miss beer. When I happen to go out to a bar or a restaurant and opt for some sort of alcoholic beverage, it's usually harder liquor instead of beer, but not because of the reasons you might think! Contrary to popular belief, I quite enjoy a good tasting beer, however because of the wheat and gluten that most beer usually contain, I can't drink it often.
That being said I'm fortunate enough to be able to cheat every now and again and splurge on a delicious cup or bottle of beer or two. Not often do I come across new beer that I'd like to try but when I do, that's when I gladly cash in my 'cheat chips.'
So when I first learned about Kirin Ichiban, one of Japan's oldest breweries with a history dating back to 1888, I knew my cheat chips were going to inevitably be cashed, especially after I received Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light to try!
But before we dive into the beer, quick fun fact! The company gets its name after the mythical Kirin beast, the half dragon half deer pictured on the company's bottle. It is said the beast is a symbol of well being, promoting serenity and prosperity.
I'm such a mythology lover!
Recently, Kirin Ichiban has partnered with celebrity chef Candice Kumai to bring their Japanese-style beer together with oriental inspired meals, pairing wonderful beer with delicious food just in time for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival!
Known in Japan and around the world for being 'Beer at it's Purest', Kirin beer is a 100% malt, first press beer which uses a First Press brewing process, guaranteeing only the purest, most flavorful portion of its ingredients are used, making for a smooth, full bodied beer as a result. Since we're also talking about food, Kirin Ichiban pairs quite well with traditional Japanese dishes as well as modern Asian cuisine.
Kirin Light offers the full flavor of Kirin Ichiban, but at just 95 calories and this particular lighter beer pairs beautifully with healthier Asian dishes.
If this pairing of Japanese beer and Asian cuisine intrigues you you'll really want to follow Kirin's Facebook Page to take advantage of the recipes and pairing tips they'll be sharing throughout the year!
Since I was challenged with finding an oriental inspired recipe to pair with one of these two Japanese beers, I set to work and found the perfect balance of healthy and downright flavorful, all in one simple dish.
Gluten-free Ginger Honey Chicken
(Makes 6 servings)
Adapted from Marc Matsumoto
-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
-3 tablespoons San-J Organic Tamari Wheat Free soy sauce
-3 tablespoons sake
-3 tablespoons honey
-1-1 1/2 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
-1 teaspoon olive oil
-Chopped scallions and sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
1. Firstly, cut the chicken thighs into small, bite sized pieces. In a bowl combine soy sauce, honey, sake (any plain sake will do), and finely ground ginger and whisk together until fully mixed. Once you're done cutting your chicken thighs add them to the marinade mixture, hand toss for optimal coating and absorption, and let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Once thoroughly marinated, heat up a medium sized frying pain, add your olive oil (you can use canola oil or vegetable oil, too, depending on preference and or availability) and make sure to coat the bottom of the pan fully. Now you're ready to add your chicken! You will have a good deal of bite-sized pieces which you will add to the pan one by one in batches. You want a nice crispy brown look on either side of your chicken pieces which only takes a couple of minutes to achieve on either side.
**Note:: Since you have sugar in the marinade you created you're liable to burn your chicken if the pan is too hot. If the pan is too cool, the chicken won't brown because water will leach out so you must adjust your temperature accordingly!
3. Once the chicken is evenly browned on both sides, transfer it to a plate and keep repeating this process until all your chicken is cooked and transferred. If you have any extra oil in your pan after this process, use a paper towel to wipe it down.
4. Next, you'll use the rest of the remaining marinade in your bowl and add it to the already hot frying pan with 2 tablespoons of water to dilute it a little bit, which you will bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Once you've achieved boil status, add your chicken back to the pan and stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed back into your chicken giving it a beautiful shiny coating.
5. This step is optional but you can garnish your chicken with scallions and sesame seeds. My mom enjoys her sesame seeds toasted so you can go the extra mile and toast yours before adding them to the chicken, or you can top your chicken right out of the seasoning bottle.
**Note:: I highly recommend adding the chopped scallions because not only do they look pretty but they add a tasty punch of flavor!
While I paired the Kirin Ichiban with my meal, my parents opted to pair the Kirin Light with theirs and really enjoyed how perfectly it paired with the chicken! I got to sip on both beers and while I thoroughly enjoyed both for various different reasons, I think I prefer the Kirin Light for this particular recipe. It aided in complimenting the chicken's sweet and zesty flavoring with a light, crisp, and refreshing boost.
By the way, the only reason that I did not include the words gluten-free in the graphic below advertising this particular recipe was due to the beer included in the picture. While my ginger honey chicken was, indeed, made with gluten-free ingredients, the beer is not gluten free.
Did you know: In Japanese culture, it is require that you never fill your own glass, you never let another person's glass get completely empty, and when everyone is ready to drink, you toast by saying 'Kanpai' (pronounced kahm-pie).