Friday, March 8, 2013

(Belated) Chinese New Year Meal #4: Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms with Chicken (Ping Gu Ji Pian) and Blanched Choy Sum with Sizzling Oil (You Lin Cai Xin)

I wasn't going to include this dish as one of our (Belated) Chinese New Year meals because we have already included a chicken dish and I had another that I was considering making, but I loved this recipe so much that I couldn't resist.  The flavors were different from everything we have featured thus far - relatively fresh, simple and subtle.  Rather than being hit over the head with spice, fermented black beans or Sichuan peppercorns, this dish features the more subtle flavors of oyster mushrooms, ginger and garlic.  It was just so lovely and so very satisfying.  I wanted to keep eating and eating and eating.  This is a dish that I can imagine serving my kids (first I have to get around to having kids, but you know what I mean).  We served the chicken with some blanched greens that were equally homey and delicious. Pouring sizzling oil over a pile of aromatics on top of the lightly blanched greens and then drizzling a mixture of soy sauce and water over the whole kit and caboodle imparts a lot more flavor to the greens than you would think.  Alex mentioned that he was totally surprised by how flavorful the greens were.  Again, the flavors are subtle (rather than in your face), but each bite of choy sum is nicely seasoned and flavored.  And for once, Alex didn't complain or comment that he wished dinner was spicier.  

Recipes after the jump!

Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms with Chicken (Ping Gu Ji Pian)
Every Grain of Rice:  Simple Chinese Home Cooking
By Fuchsia Dunlop

1 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 scallion
7 oz oyster mushrooms
3 tbsp oil
a piece of ginger, about the size of a large clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
ground white pepper
For the marinade:
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1 tsp potato flour (we were out so we used cornstarch)

Lay the chicken breast on a cutting board and, holding your knife at a right angle to the board, cut it into thin slices.  Place in a bowl, add the marinade ingredients with 2 tsp of cold water and mix well.

Holding the knife at a steep angle, cut the scallions into 3/8 inch diagonal slices, keeping the white and green parts separate.  Clean the oyster mushrooms (if necessary) and tear or cut lengthways into bite-sized pieces, discarding any hard bits at the base of their stalks.

Heat a seasoned wok over a high flame.  Add 1 tbsp oil, swirl it around, then add the mushrooms and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until nearly cooked.  Set aside.

Reheat the wok over a high flame, then add the remaining oil and swirl it around.  Add the chicken and stir-fry to separate the slices.  When the slices are separating but still pinkish, add ginger, garlic and scallion whites and continue to stir for a few moments until you can smell their fragrances.  Then return the mushrooms and stir to incorporate, adding s&p to taste.  Finally, stir in scallion greens.  Serve.

Blanched Choy Sum with Sizzling Oil (You Lin Cai Xin)
Every Grain of Rice:  Simple Chinese Home Cooking
By Fuchsia Dunlop

11 oz choy sum
2 scallions
a small strip of red bell pepper or chili for color (optional)
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce diluted with 2 tbsp hot/boiling water

Bring a panful of water to a boil.

Wash and trim the choy sum.  Trim the scallions and cut them lengthwise into very fine slivers.  Peel the ginger and cut into very fine slivers.  Cut a few very fine slivers of the chili or bell pepper, if using.

Add salt and 1 tbsp oil to the boiling water, add the choy sum and blanch until it is just starting to become tender (the stems should still be a little crisp).   Drake and shake dry in a colander.

Pile the choy sum on a serving dish and pile the scallion, ginger and chili or pepper on top.

Heat the remaining oil over a high flame.  When the oil is hot, ladle it carefully over the scallions, ginger and chili or pepper.  It should sizzle dramatically.

Pour the diluted soy sauce mixture over the greens.  Serve.

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