I've always been a fan of dishes like Hainanese chicken which contain the most simple, mild flavours but allow the devourer to tweak to their tastes with a variety of garnishes.
I've also been a fan of dishes which focus on creating a variety of textures and flavours.
And in this dish, i am attempting to accomplish both! This dish is all about subtle ingredients, from the whisper of ginger in the mild sauce, to the hint of garlicky heat in the stems. The chicken is mild and succulent and the mushrooms provide a hint of earthiness. But when you add the chilli sauce, or soy, it brings the flavours to an even higher level.
This dish is not so much about cooking expertise as combining lots of ingredients i love into one dish
Although i'm not normally an advocate of heating things in cling film due to possible chemical leeching, the method did work as the chicken was both succulent and flavorful.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
- 450gm chicken breast fillets
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 handful water chestnuts
- 12 garlic stems
- 1 thumb ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 scallions
- 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
- 200gm shiitake mushrooms
- 1 block tofu
- 1 tsp arrowroot powder
- 2/3 cup macadamias, whole
- Chilli sauce if desired
- 1 cup peanut oil for frying.
Combine the ginger, garlic, 1 scallion and stock in a pot.
Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Strain the liquid and add the arrowroot and stir to thicken slightly.
Toast the macadamias in an oven or frying pan until lightly golden and set aside
Cut the water chestnuts into 1-2cm cubes and set aside.
Cut the chicken, if necessary, into 150gm pieces.
Mix the chicken with the sesame oil and a good shake of salt.
Wrap the chicken in cling film, like a bon bon, twisting the sides of the cling film to press out air. Tie the ends together.
Heat a very large pot of water (8L or more) until it boils then turn off the heat.
Add the chicken pieces in the clingfilm to the pot, cover and leave for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 'tiles' about 1-2 inches wide and 1/2 inch high.
Press the tofu with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Heat the peanut oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering.
Add the tofu and fry until golden on one side, then flip and cook the other side.
Drain on paper towel.
Add the shiitakes to the pan and fry on each side for 30 seconds.
Also drain on paper towel.
Bring the sauce back up to a bare simmer whilst you plate the food.
Remove the chicken from the pot and cut into thick slices.
Cut the garlic stems into 6 inch lengths and add to the water the chicken was in with the water chestnuts, to blanch both.
Place the garlic stems in parallel rows on the plate.
Top with a line of alternating chicken, tofu and mushrooms
Scatter the macadamias and water chestnuts around the chicken.
Spoon over some of the sauce (which should be quite runny) and garnish with the remaining scallions, chopped
Serve with chilli sauce and soy on the side.