This quick and delicious oriental chicken recipe came from the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, a great resource for Chinese cooking. There they call it Three Cup Chicken. It is perfect for the Chinese New Year celebration. The “standard” public holiday in Mainland China is the 7 days from the Chinese New Year’ Eve to day 6 of the lunar calendar new year. This year that took place January 27 to February 2.
The traditional holiday period may be as long as 23 days, starting 3 weeks before Chinese New Year’s Eve; and ending at the Lantern Festival (February 11th this year).
This is the year of the Fire Rooster. There are 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac, the rooster is the 10th sign. Additionally each year is also associated with one of the 5 elements, Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. Both the zodiac sign and the element shape the astrology of the year. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years. In general people born in a year of the Rooster are very observant. They are also hardworking, resourceful, courageous, confident, and talented. If you are interested you can read more about them at this link.
Ingredients for 2-3 servings
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Chop them crosswise into 2 pieces (the butcher did it for me).
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger root
- 1/4 cup rice wine or sake, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, divided
- 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil
- leaves from a bunch of Thai basil (I substituted fresh cilantro) and sliced scallion
- Put the chicken in a saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring it slowly to a simmer, skim off any scum that rises to the top, turn down the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
- Drain the chicken in a strainer over a bowl, save the cooking water for stock or to cook your rice.
- Heat a heavy saucepan or wok over high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil, add the ginger and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the drained chicken and fry for another minute, add the 2 tablespoons of rice wine and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Continue to fry on high heat until the chicken is browned, another 2 minutes or so.
- If you are using a heavy bottomed skillet, you can leave the chicken in it. If using a wok, transfer the chicken to a Dutch oven or casserole. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of rice wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Cover and cook on low heat until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thickened, another 30 minutes or so.
- Stir in the chopped basil or cilantro and scallion before serving.
Serve with steamed rice, or baked sweet potatoes, and a green vegetable.