With Six You Get Shrimp Chips

Asian-inspired food is perfect for summer entertaining because it's light, colorful and delicious. The following dishes would make a terrific dinner party menu. The sesame roasted chicken can be popped into the oven about an hour before you expect to sit down at the table. Alternatively, the whole meal can be served at room temperature, making it great for buffet service.

The roasted chicken is unusually flavorful--the chicken meat is seasoned with a paste of sesame oil, garlic, ginger and cilantro, tucked right under the skin. Sugar snap peas with corn and mushrooms make a lively vegetable mix. The Hoisin Fried Rice With Vegetables boasts the crunch of minced carrots and the sweetness of hoisin sauce.

Shrimp chips, available in Asian markets, make easy tidbits to serve with drinks. Dessert should be equally simple--perhaps a compote of macerated fresh pineapple chunks and strawberries in orange-flavored liqueur served with Chinese almond cookies.

Don't forget the wine or beer. A chilled Gewurztraminer works well, especially a Field Stone 1990 or a slightly chilled light red such as a Georges Duboeuf 1990. A chilled Chinese beer such as Tsing Tao is a nice alternative.

It's a good idea to roast more chicken than you need since the juicy and flavorful leftovers are excellent in sandwiches and salads. Use a processor to mince the garlic, ginger and cilantro together.

SESAME ROASTED CHICKEN

2 (3 1/2-pound) whole chickens, trimmed of all visible fat

Sesame Mixture

Peanut oil

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Cilantro sprigs

Loosen skin from each chicken and separate from meat, starting with cavity end, easing hand along breast as far as possible and loosening skin around thigh and leg. Use inverted teaspoon to loosen skin in remote areas. Do not tear skin.

Using teaspoon, insert Sesame Mixture under skin. Work mixture evenly by massaging from outside, clear down to thigh area and leg. Rub some Sesame Mixture inside cavity. Rub chickens with peanut oil. Season surface and cavity to taste with salt and pepper.

Place chickens in shallow roasting pan lined with heavy-duty foil; leave some space between chickens. Drape loosely with foil. Refrigerate 3 hours to overnight. Roast at 450 degrees until juices run clear when area between thigh and leg is pierced with knife, about 50 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Place on warm serving platter and garnish with cilantro leaves. Carve at table. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

668 calories; 424 mg sodium; 175 mg cholesterol; 53 grams fat; 1 gram carbohydrates; 44 grams protein; 0.06 gram fiber.

Sesame Mixture

1/4 cup Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 (1-inch) cube peeled ginger root, minced

1/3 cup minced cilantro

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash crushed hot pepper, optional

Combine sesame and peanut oils, garlic, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, salt and crushed hot pepper in small dish. Mix to blend.

The contrast of bright-green sugar snap peas and yellow corn or squash makes this dish a delight to behold. The cilantro adds just the right bite to this mixture. Be careful not to overcook the vegetables; the sugar snap peas should have texture.

SUGAR SNAP PEAS WITH CORN AND MUSHROOMS

3 tablespoons peanut oil

1 pound medium mushrooms, stems trimmed, quartered

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 pound medium sugar snap peas, trimmed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups fresh corn cut from cob or 1 1/2 cups yellow squash cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Heat peanut oil in large non-stick wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until seared, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, sugar snap peas, salt and corn. Stir-fry until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar.

Stir to combine. Do not overcook. Adjust seasonings. Stir in cilantro at last minute. Serve hot immediately or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

146 calories; 308 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 8 grams fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 2.76 grams fiber.

Hoisin sauce moistens and flavors the fried rice. To prepare the rice ahead, reserve the green onions until the rice is reheated. Once more, it's easier if you use a processor to mince the carrots and onion together.

HOISIN FRIED RICE WITH VEGETABLES

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon water

Salt

Dash crushed hot pepper

3 tablespoons peanut oil

2 medium carrots, scrubbed, minced

1 small onion, minced

4 cups cooked rice, chilled

6 large green onions, thinly sliced

Combine soy and hoisin sauces, vinegar, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and crushed hot pepper in small dish. Set aside.

Heat oil in wok or 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and onion. Cook until hot, about 1 minute, stirring often. Add rice. Stir to combine. Cook until very hot and almost sizzling, about 2 minutes, stirring often.

Add hoisin mixture to rice, stir and cook to heat. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in green onions. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

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