Saturday, October 12, 2013

Braised Chinese Chicken with Chestnuts

This is another simple Chinese recipe from Fuschia Dunlop (the dish is called "Ban Li Shao Ji"). I recently bought her new cookbook, "Every Grain of Rice" and am in love with exploring the recipes contained in this 350 page gem. So many of the recipes are Paleo, as this one is, so I feel like I have stumbled onto a real gold mine.

This recipe could not be any simpler. The prep time is about 5 minutes and then you've got just 15 minutes of simmering. The chestnuts, a native crop of China for centuries, bring a unique taste and texture to the dish. You can buy them cooked at your grocery store. You can also buy them raw at Whole Foods. If you do the latter, simply slice off the base and blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes.

4 boneless chicken thighs (about 3/4 lb.)
2-inch piece fresh ginger
2 spring onions, white and green parts separated
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
7 ounces cooked chestnuts
Salt to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)*

*The original recipe does not call for red pepper flakes, but when I made this dish, I thought it tasted much better with some heat.


  1. Peel the ginger and cut into thick slices. Cut the whole scallions into 2-inch lengths.
  2. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces.
  3. In a wok or pot, heat oil and carefully add the chicken. Allow the chicken to sear untouched on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the chicken over and sear on the other side for another 3 minutes. Add the ginger and white scallions and sear for about 30 seconds. Splash in the Chinese rice wine and stir well.
  4. Slowly add the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir in the sugar, chestnuts and soy sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. At the last minute, add the green scallions and cook for one more minute. Adjust the seasoning with salt and add red pepper flakes if desired, then transfer to a deep serving dish.

Wine pairing: Syrah

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