28.2.11

taiwanese chicken rice

So far, each time I tried one of the recipes from "Chinese Food Made in Minutes" I felt that it was the best one so far. I just realised that basically, all the recipes are really amazing, that it is impossible to choose and that the best one will always be the one you are eating in the moment of decision.

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Having said that, Taiwanese chicken rice was incredible. So incredible in fact that I didn't have the opportunity to take a picture of the whole meal (including the garlic spinach) last night, but I had to photograph the leftovers today (minus garlic spinach because that all went yesterday).
Since I know I'm going to make it again, soon, I'll replace the picture later.

This dish is not low fat because it uses 100 ml sesame oil, but the flavour is absolutely incredible, even the next day.
This amount will serve 4 if you add another starter dish to it, otherwise, as the only dish, it will probably feed 3 people (or 2 with another portion for lunch the next day).

Part of the amazing flavour, apart from the nuttiness of sesame and dried mushrooms, is probably chicken which is cooked on the bone. Chicken thighs on the bone are used for richer flavour, but they need to be chopped into 2-3 pieces each (sort of easy size to take with a chopstick). For this you should use a big heavy meat cleaver that Chinese cooks use for everything. Failing that, I used a heavy sharp knife and wooden meat tenderiser - position the knife on the chicken and then smack it with the tenderiser to result in a single, clean and complete cut through the bone. Having said that, I found the whole process a bit traumatic so even though it worked - I don't really recommend it.
You must not hit the same spot multiple times because that will give off bone fragments which you definitely don't want in your food.
So, either use the cleaver, or better yet - ask the butcher to cut it for you.

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbsp groundnut oil
5cm piece fresh root ginger
6 dried Chinese (shitake) mushrooms (pre-soaked in hot water then drained and sliced)
4 medium skinless chicken thighs on the bone
100ml Shaohsing rice wine
100ml pure sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
300g jasmine or basmati rice
500 ml water

serve with garlic spinach:
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 large bag (about 200g) fresh spinach
3 garlic cloves
pinch of salt
toasted sesame oil

Preparation:
Remove the skin and cut each chicken thigh in 2-3 pieces (bone included). Pre-soak the mushrooms, drain them and slice. Remove outer peel from the ginger root and slice finely, then give it a rough chop.
Heat the oil in a wok. When very hot, first add ginger and garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Then add the mushrooms and cook for another 30 seconds before adding the chicken. Stir fry for a 2-3 minutes, until the chicken turns opaque on the outside. Add Shaohsinsg wine and and sesame oil and cook for another 2 minutes. Add water, stir and bring to the boil.
Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes, until you have a consistency of a juicy risotto.

To make garlic spinach, chop the garlic finely, wash and drain the spinach leaves.
Heat the wok with groundnut oil. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add spinach and salt and stir fry for a minute or two, until the spinach wilts. Drizzle with a little bit of toasted sesame oil and serve immediately.

You can mix the spinach with the chicken rice or serve it on the side (this is how we ate it last night, but I'm sure it would be lovely all mixed together).

Bon appétit!

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