Sunday, May 2, 2010

Returning to the Land of Plenty

All last week, my focus was on Law rather than Food. So it was really nice to finally get back in the kitchen to cook and relax a little bit this past weekend.

On Saturday I made a trip to Chinatown, where I picked up a whole chicken, some chicken bones and a bunch of mustard greens. For a quick lunch, I grabbed a half roast duck and roast pork from Hop Won on Mott and a couple of baked pork buns from Me Lei Wah on Bayard (and made duck fried rice for lunch today too).

I hadn't made a single chicken dish out of Fuschia Dunlop's Land of Plenty yet, so for my next dish I made one of my favorites: Chicken with Chiles (or Chongqing Chicken). Though it's covered in chiles, it has a pleasant, but not overwhelming spiciness with a low and slow burn.

Today, I spent the day catching up on work while slowly assembling the dish. I also wanted chicken stock, so I roasted the bones in the oven for 30 minutes, then threw everything in a pot around noon. After 6 hours of simmering, my stock looked and smelled delicious. Once I cleared the stockpot and remains out of the way, I broke down the chicken and prepared my mise like so:

The chicken is marinated simply with some light and dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and salt (Dunlop recommends at least 30 minutes in the marinade, I left it in for about 2 1/2 hours). The rest of the ingredients were simple: a pile of seeded chiles, green onions, Sichuan pepper, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. My only audible was adding roasted sesame seeds and using 1 teaspoon of sesame oil instead of two (sesame oil is cloying when you use too much, and I like sesame seeds better anyway).

Everything comes together very quickly. Just drop the chicken in really hot oil, cooking it for five minutes until brown. For the sauce, saute sliced garlic and ginger in three tablespoons of oil, then add the (hopefully seeded) chiles and peppercorns. Finally, toss the chicken, sesame oil and green onions together for this:

Again, Dunlop's recipes have proven fantastic. The Chongqing Chicken was outstanding. Browned chicken nuggets were deeply flavored and indistinguishable from restaurant versions. The dish exuded the pleasant aroma of ginger, garlic and chiles.

I also made the mustard greens as a mellow complement for the chicken, with some salt, garlic and a little Sichuan pepper. My plate:

On Saturday I put up Dunlop's recipe for fermented glutinous rice wine. It's sitting in an earthenware jar in my closet right now. Since the rice wine only takes three days, check back Tuesday night for the results.

To be continued...

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