Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chicken with Ginger (La Jiang Men Ji)

This might be my new favorite chicken stir-fry recipe and I think I am going to use this cooking method when making stir-fries in the future (with a few tweaks).  It is just uber warm and comforting, and gently, rather than aggresively spiced.  I loved how the flavor of the ginger really permeated the dish without overwhelming it.  For me this is the epitome of comfort food.  With that said, I had a few minor comments/complaints.  First, I think you need to hike up the heat a little while stir-frying the chicken initially in order to get the edges to turn golden and begin to caramelize.  Medium heat just wasn't going to do it for us.  Second, be careful when seasoning/salting the dish after you add the stock and begin to simmer because as you reduce the chicken stock mixture it will get saltier and the flavors will be more concetrated.  Don't season it too aggressively in the beginning or it will be overly salty when you finally get around to eating it.  I also wish we had thrown in just a few more scallions for a little more freshness.  Maybe one more sliced scallion would do the trick?

Anyway, constructive criticisms aside, I loved this dish.  It just made me happy.  I might try making it in the future with a few more veggies thrown in (I'm thinking asparagus and water chestnuts for starters) for some variety.  Or I might try to combine this recipe with my mom's usual stir-fry recipe and see what happens.  Here's to more delicious cooking and kitchen experimentation in 2012!

Recipe after the jump!

Chicken with Ginger (La Jiang Men Ji)
Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province
By Fuchsia Dunlop

1 lb boned chicken thighs (the recipe calls for skin, but ours were skinless)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp light soy sauce, plus extra for seasoning
3-inch piece fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced
1 tbsp clear rice wine or Shaoxing wine
a few dried chili flakes (optional)
2/3 cup everyday stock or water (we used chicken stock)
3 scallions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp peanut oil for cooking

Cut chicken into bite-sized chunks, add the salt and 2 tsp light soy sauce, and mix well.

Heat the peanut oil in a wok over medium flame.  Add the ginger and stir-fry until richly fragrant.  Add the chicken and continue to fry until golden.  Splash the wine into the side of the wok, add some chili flakes, and let their spicy fragrance infuse the oil.

Pour in the stock or water and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, seasoning with salt and soy sauce to taste.  When the liquid is much reduced, add the scallions and stir a few times.  Off the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

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