Monday, August 22, 2011

CHINESE-STYLE CHICKEN WITH VEGETABLES



Irene Kuo's The Key to Chinese Cooking was one of the first ethnic cookbooks I ever purchased. I've been using it since the 70's and it has never failed me. When we don't want "take out,"  it's still my go to source for more healthful eating with a Chinese twist. Chicken and broccoli is one of our favorite dishes, but moo goo gai pan (chicken with assorted vegetables) is a close second. If you love crisp Chinese vegetables with a nice glazy sauce, this dish is for you.

Serves 2-3 as a main course with rice
1 lb velveted chicken (velveting chicken)
1 large garlic clove, lightly smashed and peeled
2 quarter-sized pieces of ginger
3 tbs peanut oil
1/4 cup chicken stock

(you can mix up your veggies; these are what I chose on this night)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (hard stems removed)
4 scallions, sliced
3 large bunches broccoli florets, trimmed and sliced

Sauce:
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs hoisin sauce (I changed this from the oyster sauce recommended; I prefer its taste)
1 tbs dry sherry
1/2 tsp sugar
dash white pepper
2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbs water
2 tsp sesame oil

Set out the velveted chicken.

Smash the garlic lightly and peel; slice the ginger; prepare the veggies. Mise en place is critical to a successful stir fry.

Heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirl, and heat until hot. Toss in the ginger and garlic and press them against the side of the pan. Scatter in the vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes. Add some salt and continue to stir fry, using a tossing motion, for another 45 seconds. Add the stock, even out the vegetables, and spread the chicken on top. Cover, lower the heat to medium,  and steam cook for about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn. Uncover, add the sauce, and toss again until the sauce glazes all the meat and vegetables. Taste for seasoning, adding more soy sauce, if desired. Pour into a hot serving dish and serve with rice.
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TASTE NOTES
What I love about moo goo gai pan is that it tastes different every time, depending upon what veggies you use. In the winter, I love bok choy, baby bok choy if it's available. If you love summer squash, add it in. I always love broccoli and mushrooms, but have also used red pepper slices, bamboo shoots, snow peas, string beans--mix it up! The chunkiness of the meat and veggies makes this a hearty dish. The sauce is lovely, not gooey or artificial looking as so many sauces in Chinese restaurants can be. While there is a lot of prep, once that's done, the dish comes together in minutes. I can't say enough about the importance of velveting. For health reasons, I velvet in water, not oil. It renders your protein into a delicate, tender morsel.

4 comments:

  1. This looks fabulous Arlene--so fresh and delicious. I don't cook enough Chinese. ;-)

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  2. One of our favorites here, great instructions... love the freshness of Chinese foods, Asian food rocks!

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  3. Hmmmm, I never knew about velveting. Looks like it's time to take out my wok! This recipe looks easy and delicious.

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  4. how fresh and lovely, this looks so good!

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