Sunday, November 15, 2015

Black Pepper Chicken

Sometimes a recipe grabs you by the throat. This one does. Except that the recipe calls for tofu. Not my favorite food. But then I think, what if I use chicken in place? Would it work? If it doesn't, I would be in big trouble as it is a simple dinner tonight. Sweet corn soup, chicken and fried rice.  Two out of three wouldn't quite work. I go ahead with the experiment. 

Chicken thighs have the flavor quotient I am looking for. When cut into bite size pieces they retain moisture and taste, no matter which way they are cooked. Boneless skinless thighs have little fat. They are a better alternative to breast meat. Then again, it's my opinion. Feel free to use your choice of chicken parts!

Unlike most Chinese food where there is a lot of slice and dice, this recipe has an ease of prep. I chop ginger and garlic finely. Green chiles are sliced on a bias. Sauces sit on the counter top. I'm not too sure about adding three sauces. Kecap manis adds a sweet touch, a good foil for the regular and dark soya sauces. The recipe calls for butter in place of oil, another variation which intrigues. I go to wok with a wooden spatula and a sense of discovery.

Serves 4

1 lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs
3-4 tablespoons Cornstarch 
1/2 cup Canola Oil
3 tablespoons Butter
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely chopped Garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped Ginger 
2 Chiles
3 tablespoons Kecap Manis or Sweet Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce 
2 tablespoons dark Soy Sauce 
2 teaspoons Sugar
2-3 tablespoons ground Black Pepper 
1/2 cup Cilantro 

Cut chicken thighs into 1 inch pieces. Wash and dry chicken.

Heat canola oil in a wok.

Coat chicken pieces in cornstarch. 

Fry chicken in batches, 6-7 pieces at a time, till brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels or on a rack.

Clean out wok. Place wok over medium heat and add butter.

Drop shallots, ginger and garlic into melted butter.

Slice green chiles on a bias and add to butter. Saute for 10 minutes till ginger and  garlic turns golden brown.

Add Kecap manis and both soy sauces, along with the sugar. Stir well till sauce starts bubbling. 

Turn flame to low.

At this point add the chicken to sauce and let it hang out in the sauce for 5-10 minutes.

Sprinkle pepper over chicken. Stir well to mix.

Serve chicken hot, garnished with cilantro.

As I wok and roll, I am inhaling the enticing aroma of garlic slowing browning in butter. The three sauces bubble in harmony. The dark brown sauce coats the chicken as it simmers. Generous amounts of black pepper give the chicken a tongue tingling taste. Simple fried rice and black pepper chicken emerge a perfectly matched duo. The recipe that's grabs me, spices up my dinner well!