A brunoise is a fine dice, usually for garnish. It is considered to be one of the hardest cuts to master: perfectly even pieces less than 3 millimeters on a side. The mango that tops these ginger chicken cakes is ideally cut in a brunoise.
I first served these bites at a dinner party five years ago. Our friend Joe came over to help with prep. I handed him a mango and a knife and turned my back to continue shaping the dumplings I had been working on. Two minutes later I turned around. I finally understood how Luke felt when Yoda raised the X-Wing from the swamp. I too had not believed it possible. Joe had peeled and perfectly cut the mango into a brunoise – in the time it took me to fill and shape four dumplings.
This remains the most important moment in the development of my knife skills. I didn’t actually learn how to do anything that day. I just now had proof that it could, in fact, be done. Since then I’ve diced the mango myself, ten or twelve times now. It is still not as good as Joe’s, but I’m getting better. Because I know I can.
Gingered Chicken Cakes
Ask your meat counter to grind some boneless thigh meat for you. Breast meat dries out to quickly. Use your thermometer and remove these from the oven when they hit 165 F. They will remain a bit pink inside so color can’t be your guide.
- 1 pound ground chicken thighs
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
- Sriracha hot sauce
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise*
- 1 lime
- 2 tbs chopped cilantro plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely diced mango
- Mix together chicken, ginger, fish sauce, garlic and scallions. Season to taste with Sriracha.*
- Shape chicken mixture into small cakes. About 1 tbs each.
- Blend mayonnaise and cilantro. Season to taste with lime juice.
- Sauté chicken cakes over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Or bake 12-15 min at 400 F.
- Top with mayonnaise, mango and a cilantro leaf.
*To check seasoning cook a small cake before shaping the rest.