A friend read a previous blog on pork hocks, and asked for a recipe “fit for a Jewish princess”, so here it is! Chicken with mushrooms and sesame oil is a traditional Chinese confinement dish and a favourite of mine. There’s no reason why you can’t add the recipe to your every-day repertoire, it is that easy. Use halal chicken and it can also be suitable for a Saudi princess who loves Chinese food and wants to get back in shape quickly after having a baby!
What are the benefits?
Hakka and Cantonese communities believe that this dish promotes circulation and stimulates energy because of the ingredients used. The curative properties of ginger are well known. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, rich in minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Tradition has it that eating lots of ginger helps the uterus shrink and new mums get back in shape quickly .
Sesame oil is nearly always used in Chinese confinement recipes. Do you know that sesame is rich in zinc, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium and just all round good? It is supposed to lower blood pressure and then the blood – so is it equivalent to snake oil? Chinese cooking and relied on it for centuries so it is very safe!
Apart from being nourishing, this dish is really delicious. My daughter and son-in-law loved it.
How easy is it to cook?
It’s easy to cook and almost fool-proof. Step by step instructions are given below. Some recipes that I’ve seen on the internet tell you that this dish can be cooked in 30 minutes all up. However I think slow cooking enhances the flavours, so give yourself time – at least 1 hour. This dish keeps well in the fridge and also freezes well so it is time well spent.
What can go wrong?
Some pitfalls (easily avoided) are: adding too much soy sauce; not soaking the mushrooms long enough; and not giving the chicken enough time to cook.
For the recipe read more…
Chicken and mushroom in sesame oil (serves 3-4)
Prep time – 30 minutes, Cook time, at least 30 minutes
- ½ chicken (1 Kg or 2.2 lbs)
- 50 g or 2 oz old ginger, sliced
- Handful of dried mushrooms, if they are large then about 5-6
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
- ½ cup Chinese rice wine or stone’s ginger wine (optional)
- Shallots or green onions (optional garnish
- Wash, then soak mushrooms in a small bowl of warm water for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze to remove water, remove and discard stems then slice. If using small mushrooms, you can just cut them in half, or cook them whole. Some cooks prefer to keep this liquid and use about half of it in cooking, adding or substituting for the rice wine.
- In the meantime, wash chicken and cut into serving pieces. Drain.
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or heavy saucepan. When oil is hot (but not smoking) fry ginger slices until fragrant. It should take less than a minute.
- Add chicken, fry for 5-10 minutes until the pieces are slightly brown.
- Add mushrooms, fry for another 2-3 minutes
- Add soy sauce, and stir fry till ingredients are well mixed.
- Add rice wine, bring to the boil then and gently simmer for at least 15 minutes until chicken is cooked and mushrooms are softened.
- You may garnish with chopped shallots or green onions. I like to use goji berries.
- Serve with rice and green leafy vegetables.
Mushrooms can be soaked for 2 hours, to ensure that its soft and can be sliced easily. I recommend that you buy good quality mushrooms as the fragrance enhances this dish.
Variations on the theme – omit the Chinese mushrooms and substitute 2-3 tablespoons of honey. It’s still pretty good.
You may choose to substitute or 6 drumsticks or 3 chicken Maryland pieces or 2 pieces of chicken breast, sliced.
Please note that you should cook the rice earlier so that it is ready for eating when chicken is cooked. I used some red rice in the usual basmati or jasmine rice just to give it a bit more texture and interest.
Chinese greens can be steamed or cooked while chicken is cooking. I used “pak choy” but also frequently use broccoli, broken into florets. Drop greens into boiling water for 1-2 minutes or steam for 5 minutes. Dribble some soy sauce and sesame oil over – but go easy on the sauce. Chinese restaurants use oyster sauce but I use this very sparingly. Alternatively greens can be stir fried with garlic.
Sauce should thicken naturally, and I don’t recommend that you use cornstarch or other thickener.
I don’t use sugar, as the wine adds sweetness. After 15 minutes of boiling, a lot of the alcohol will have evaporated.
If you wish, double the portions but cooking time will be longer.