Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Chicken Karaage with Swiss Chalet Sauce

 THE GAME: Twins vs Yankees

On the last night of spring in 2003, I sat in the Epicenter and watched Ervin Santana throw the best game I have ever seen in the minors. I don't remember his final line (and I can't find the boxscore anywhere online) but I think it was 7, maybe 8 innings pitched, and one hit.

But more impressive than the numbers was the movement on his pitches. He was 20 years old and throwing not only blazing fastballs, but major-league-quality sliders. He only started 20 games for the Quakes - then the Angels High-A team - that season before moving on to AA, and in less than two years he would make his first start in Anaheim.

"This kid is going to be a superstar," I said that night to my dad and my friend Tom.

Was I right?

No.

But... Ervin has played fourteen seasons, made two All-Star teams, made 98 million dollars, and pitched the first Angels no-hitter I ever saw.

So it's definitely been a good career.

And tonight he starts against the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game. It seems like everyone has written in the Yankees to advance, but that's why they play the games.

NOTES ON THE FOOD: 
  • I mentioned last month, when writing about The Big Mc, that my friend Marina had brought me back some condiments from a vacation to Canada. A packet of this dipping sauce mix from Swiss Chalet was included. 
  • I have never been to Swiss Chalet. Until she gave me this packet, I had never heard of Swiss Chalet. It's a casual dining chain in Canada. Their specialty appears to be rotisserie chicken, though this sauce seems to be served with everything on their menu. 
  • As per in the instructions, I brought the powder (and some water) to a boil and then let it simmer. 

  • I took four pieces of boneless, skinless thigh-meat chicken, and trimmed the excess fat. I prefer white meat chicken to dark meat, but when you're frying it, always choose the latter. White meat chicken usually turns to rubber when fried. 
  • How long do you think it took me to grab this jar of "Triple Garlic" teriyaki sauce off the shelf the first time I saw it? That's right, less than one second. 
  • I marinated the chicken overnight in the sauce, adding only some fresh ginger. There may be an Asian food that is better without ginger, but I haven't encountered it yet. 

  • I drained the chicken, tossed it in potato starch, and fried it up for roughly five minutes. 
  • It was the best karaage I've ever made. It was in the Top 3 that I have ever had, anywhere. 
  • The Swiss Chalet sauce was kind of like a light gravy. Or perhaps a spiced broth. Either way, I really enjoyed it with the fried chicken. I'm not sure if I would enjoy it with rotisserie chicken - and I'm definitely not sure I would enjoy it with french fries - but the salty tang of the sauce did a nice job coating the crunchy chicken. 

NOTES ON THE GAME: 
  • Yes, the Yankees are one of my five least-favorite teams in baseball... but I have to admit: I love it when there is October baseball in the Bronx. (Unless Bob Costas is calling the game.)
  • Commercial Note: ESPN has been running a commercial for several days with the voiceover "No fear: The American League Wild Card Game, Tuesday night." Sorry... but what the fuck does "no fear" mean? Are there some kind of new rules this year? Does the losing team get fed to the lions? Are they forced to sit out the 2018 season? What exactly is there to be afraid of?
  • Christ, ESPN just called Yankee Stadium "one of the great sports cathedrals of all time." No, it's not. It was built eight years ago. It has hosted one World Series. There was a Yankee Stadium that saw the Yankees win 26 World Series, but that was across the street and it was torn down .
  • I was kind of hoping that the Yankees would win this game, just because I think they will provide a tougher matchup for the Indians… but screw it, now I want the Twins to win, just to depress everyone at ESPN.
  • Brian Dozier leads off the game with a homer for the Twins. If this games ends 1-0,  I will buy a Twins hat and wear it for one week.
  • Eddie Rosario hits a line-drive homer that may have peaked at 25 feet. That's not a home run in any other stadium in baseball. 3-0 Twins. Good, I really didn't want to buy a Twins hat.
  • Former Yankee Aaron Boone: "This is the ultimate nightmare happening in the first inning." The woman in line ahead of me at the grocery store today was buying flowers for her daughter who was at the massacre in Las Vegas on Sunday night. But sorry about your nightmare, Aaron. 
  • Severino has been yanked after 1/3 of an inning. This game is going to last five hours, isn't it?
  • Ervin issues a leadoff walk to the Yankees. Those never come back to bite you, right?
  • Didi Gregorius hits a three-run homer. Tie game. Ervin Santana immediately gave back the 3-0 lead his team got him. Not a single Angels fan anywhere in America is the tiniest bit surprised.
  • The first inning finally ends after something like 55 minutes. 
  • The two teams almost made it through the second inning without giving up a homer. But Ervin allowed another one with two outs. 4-3 Yankees. 
  • The teams have combined for FOUR home runs in two innings. The starting pitchers combined for 2 and 1/3 innings. 
  • Aaron Judge hits a homer in the 4th inning. It's another one of those classic Yankee Stadium homers - it barely cleared the fence in left; it might not even be a double in any ballpark on the West Coast - but it still counts the same, and Judge runs around the bases screaming like he hit a 500-footer. 
  • Semi-random question: Is there any way Bryce Harper doesn't sign with New York in 14 months? If he's healthy, will he hit 75 homers in this park?
  • Finally we've reached the midway point, two hours and twenty-four minutes after the broadcast began.
  • No runs were scored in the 5th inning. I didn't realize that was allowed. 
  • I'm trying really, really hard to come up with a scenario in which either of these teams takes three out of five games against Cleveland. 
  • I cannot.
  • I've written many times that despite the fact I have watched thousands of games in my life, I still often see something for the first time. The Twins batter was just tagged out after he completely missed stepping on first. Like, it wasn't close. 
  • Chapman coming in to close for the Yankees. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Yankees win 8-4. The only thing really surprising is that the game finished in about four hours. I thought after the first two innings that we were headed for 5+ hours. 
  • I guess a team that finished 17 games back in their division shouldn't be in the postseason. Who knew?

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