Monday, 31 October 2011

Sesame Oil Chicken with rice

Do you keep any "emergency meat" in the freezer? My favourite "emergency meat" is chicken, either wings or thighs. As you may or will notice, chicken is a very popular ingredient in my home, as a combined result of several factors:
  1. I tend to cook a bit more so the leftovers can be frozen up for lunches on the following day or later. Beef or fish usually becomes too chewy but chicken just tastes as good after re-heat.
  2. Hubby is not a big fan of pork. He eats it, sometimes, but only when it's exceptionally well cooked.
  3. Chicken is cheaper and more affordable here in UK than pork and beef, especially those parts with bones such as wings or thighs.
I always try to keep a kilo or two of chicken in freezer. So when I am too busy to do grocery shopping or simply too lazy to do so (usually the latter case...), I can quickly de-froze some chicken, chuck it into a saucepan, or even better, a pressure cooker. It doesn't take much time nor effort -- probably just 20% of what I did for Coq au vin -- but it can make a easy peasey cozy homey dinner.

I read from about 6 or 7 recipes from Taiwanese blogs using traditional cooking method (slow cooking in a crock pot). Then I modified and tested to come up with this version using my pressure cooker.

My Ingredients: (serves 4)
  • 1kg of chicken (about 12-13 wings)
  • A bit of gingers, sliced
  • 3 clovers of garlic, diced
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 600g or 4 cups of rice, uncooked
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1tbsp of Shaoxing wine (紹興酒) (optional)
  • salt and soy sauce sauce
  • Shiitake mushrooms or dried Chinese mushrooms (optional)
My Method: 
  1. Marinate chicken with Shaoxing wine and a pinch of salt for 3 hours, or at least half an hour.
  2. Mix rice in water in a small bowl. Put aside.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a large frying pan and sauté garlic and ginger until brown. Stir in half of the chicken wings over a medium-high heat for 4 minutes.
  4. Stir-fry another half of the chicken for 4 minutes.
  5. Put all ingredients into the pressure cooker, water and rice first, followed by chicken wings.
  6. Cover and lock the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure setting has been set to "2" (which has a higher cooking temperature at 116C). Cook over high heat until the green mark which indicates the right pressure has been reached.
  7. Turn to medium heat and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and wait until the cooker de-pressurizes itself naturally. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil when served.

One-line Verdict:
For a very lazy night.

    • This is a modified version of Sesame oil chicken with rice (麻油雞飯) which is a popular homey dish in Taiwan. To me, it tastes, especially when mushrooms are added, very much like "steamed chicken rice with mushrooms (北菇蒸雞飯)" served in Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong.
    • I don't know it has any scientific grounds, but sesame oil chickens are believed to have an ability to nourish the body and keep people warm in cold winter. New mothers in Asia (e.g. Taiwan & Malaysia) are advised to have sesame oil chicken in their diet during the confinement month after childbirth (坐月子). Maybe the high energy content of oil and chickens help speed up blood circulation?
    • 600g of rice is actually quite a lot -- usually a small bowl of rice served at home is just about 100-150g.
    • This dish is a little bit too oily though. For a healthier version, sometimes I use chicken breast and reduce sesame oil to 1 tbsp.
    • Approximate cost of the main ingredients: £3 (isn't it a real bargain? £3 for 4 servings!)

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