When I think of Chinese food I tend to think of the greasy food served up by my local take-away or a quick, healthy stir-fry prepared by yours truly at home. The concept of a slow-cooked Chinese meal has never even occurred to me until now. I was in for a surprise.
It took me ages to try out this (adapted) recipe I found from a Ready Steady Cook folder. Speaking of which, have you ever wondered if the food on that show is edible? Or any cooking show for that matter? The presenters and guests always have smiles plastered on their faces and so far I’ve never heard one of the tasters telling the chef he made a cock-up. Maybe they’re too scared to or are simply too busy persuading themselves the food is good when in fact it actually isn’t.
Back to the chicken. I expected it to be some boring chicken dish that’s been cooked in stock with some mushrooms added. But still I gave it a whirl, just like I did with this salad. What I tasted was out of this world; the chicken was tender and the sauce to die for with a very Chinese tang to it.
You might notice there is ample sauce for just two people. What I tend to do is prepare couscous the next day, heat up the sauce (minus the chicken) and have a feast all over again. Try it, you won’t be sorry!
- 25g (1 oz) dried shiitake mushrooms
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 chicken legs
- 225g (8 oz) can water chestnuts, drained and sliced in half
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, weighing about 200g (7oz), chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2.5cm (1 inch) piece ginger, cut into thin strips
- 45ml (3 tbsp) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 60ml (4 tbsp) dark soy sauce
- 10ml (2 tsp) caster sugar
- 45ml (3 tbsp) oyster sauce
- 1 chicken/vegetable stock cube (which makes 450ml stock if mixed with hot water)
- 1 star anise
- 250g (8 oz) fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 10ml (2 tsp) cornflour
- 8 spring onion, finely sliced
- Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 300ml (½ pint) water for 20 minutes. Drain and thinly slice the mushrooms.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry chicken all over until golden.
- Transfer the pieces to a plate put it to the side.
- Add the onion, leek, garlic and ginger to the casserole and fry until the onion and leek have softened. Add the dried mushrooms and all its liquid to the casserole as well as water chestnuts, soy sauce, wine, sugar, oyster sauce and star anise. Next, add the stock cube to the mix and stir, making sure it dissolves complete. Let the sauce bubble for a minute or two then add the chicken to it. Make sure the chicken it more or less covered.
- Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, add the fresh mushrooms to the pot and stir well. Place the casserole back in the oven, this time at 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for another 30 minutes.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the casserole and keep warm. Mix cornflour with a little cold water to form a paste, stir into the boiling liquid and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve immediately and don’t forget to sprinkle spring onions on top!
- Serve on top of egg or rice noodles.
- If you can’t find dried shiitake mushrooms, use another dried variety instead. The only sort I could find at my local shop was wild ones.
- Simply pull off the chicken skin because it ends up a bit flabby. It’s mainly used for flavouring the sauce.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 502
- Sugar: 5.3 g
- Sodium: 1316 mg
- Fat: 15.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 3.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 72.9 g
- Fiber: 4.1 g
- Protein: 20.2 g
- Cholesterol: 52 mg