The temperature keeps dropping in this part of the world. Looks like the cold days are really here to stay, at least for a while. Tis the perfect time for…warm soup!
Many years ago, back in college days, a good friend taught me how to do Hainan chicken rice. I remembered the fantastic fragrance that came from the dish. Sesame oil, ginger slices, and garlic infused the soup and the chicken. My friend also tossed the rice grains with a little bit of sesame oil and oyster sauce in a pan before cooking it. Ah, so wonderful!
Inspired by that memory, I recently made something similar: chicken in sesame, ginger, and garlic soup. I served it with jasmine rice, scallions, and a little bit of chili flakes on a bitter cold night. The heat from the soup, the ginger, and the spicy chili flakes warmed me right up. I think I might make it again real soon.
Here’s my easy version:
- 2 chicken breasts and 2 thighs with bones and skin (change it up according to your preference)
- 1—1 ½ inches of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped). Fresh ginger, not powder, is one of the keys here, folks.
- 2—3 Thai peppers (chopped), if using
- 4 garlic (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Sesame oil is the other key ingredient in this recipe. Trust me 😉
- 1 bunch of scallions (minus the root part, chopped)
- Heat up a medium pot over medium heat
- Add oil, ginger, peppers, and garlic. Let them cook for a minute or two.
- Add the chicken and water. Make sure that the chicken is submerged.
- Add salt and a little bit of pepper.
- Cook for 30 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through. Taste the soup and adjust.
- Reduce the heat to low. Take the chicken out and shred them using two forks. Discard the bones.
- Return the meat into the soup and let it sit for about 10 minutes to absorb more flavors.
- Serve hot with chopped scallions and rice.
Hope you like it!
Have a great weekend, all.
One of Jeffri’s Specialties
I don’t know about you but sometimes I draw a blank on what to cook. When this happens, I usually try to get inspired by searching recipes online. But on that one particular day last month, I really had nothing. Nada. So I asked Jeff if he had any ideas. He paused for a while and said, “Chicken in Sweet and Spicy Sauce!” Aha! You see, as one of Jeffri’s specialties, Chicken in Sweet and Spicy Sauce dish doesn’t disappoint. Both of us realized that we had not done this dish in a while. Strangely enough, as soon as he came up with it, I also thought of a dish I had not made in a long time: my Spiced Up, Steamed, and Broiled Tilapia. Funny how some of these cooking ideas seem to be hidden in our memories and that once one pops out another one follows. That’s why I need this blog: to document the many recipes we like.
Anyway, here’s how Jeffri prepares his Chicken in Sweet and Spicy Sauce.
- 5 boneless and skinless chicken thighs
- 2 red bell peppers (slice to thin strips)
- 3-4 hot finger peppers (chop into short cuts, we include the seeds)
- ½ of sweet onion (slice to thin strips)
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of canola oil
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon of ground ginger
- A pinch of ground turmeric
- Place chicken thighs in a medium pot. Fill with water enough to cover the chicken. Add salt, black pepper, and garlic. Bring to boil, reduce the heat, and cook for another 15 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked).
- Set aside once chicken thighs are cooked, let them cool down.
- Dice the chicken and keep the poaching liquid.
- In a different pan (large), heat up canola oil.
- Add slices of bell peppers and onion. Cook until they wilt.
- Add the diced chicken, chili powder, ginger powder, coriander, turmeric and two cups of the poaching liquid into the the pan.
- Add one or two tablespoon of sweet soy sauce (if you don’t have sweet soy sauce, substitute with one tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of low sodium soy sauce) – or to taste. Please taste periodically to achieve that sweet and spicy balance that is just right for your preference. Now the liquid, spices, and soy sauce (or honey) will blend into the sweet and spicy sauce.
- Mix everything together until the chicken is well coated with the sauce.
- Cover the pan with a lid over low heat, and reduce by half.
- Best served over white jasmine rice.
Serve 2 generously
You could also use skin-on chicken for this dish if you prefer to have crispier texture. Here’s the alternative route:
- After poaching, deep fry the chicken over high heat until it becomes golden brown.
- Prepare the sauce using the same step mentioned.
- Mix the fried chicken and the sauce
As a big-flavor food enthusiast, I see chicken as a great “blank canvas” in my cooking. The meat has great potential for many delicious dishes. With the right blend of spices and a little patience anyone can create their own far-from-boring signature chicken dish. For me, braised and broiled chicken has been an all-time favorite and specialty.
Inspired by a version (out of many) of traditional Javanese grilled chicken, I learned to cook this meal by trying on different recipes years ago. I tweaked the technique and ingredients many times to get to my own version. We evolved with time, the recipe and I. Now that I have reached my satisfactory level with this dish I feel more confident in sharing the recipe with others.
Chicken thighs with their succulence and tender texture work best for this particular recipe. The meat doesn’t turn dry even after being cooked twice. In this recipe I braise the chicken to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavors of my choosing. Then I broil the braised meat to get that crispy golden brown effect on the chicken’s exterior. (During the warmer months I’d brown the braised chicken on a grill outside.)
Here are the must-haves and the steps to cook the chicken:
- 4-6 bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs. (Worry not about the fat. A lot of it will be cooked out of the meat.)
For the lemon-like aroma, smash:
- 1 inch of galangal
- 1 lemongrass
- 2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
For the flavor, mix and puree in a food processor:
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 4-5 shallots
- 5-6 candlenuts
- 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder
- Salt (be generous)
Heat up a tablespoon of canola oil in a large pot (over medium heat). Brown the blended spices along with the galangal and the lemongrass. Add the chicken and two or three cups of water (until the chicken is almost, not completely, covered by the liquid). Stir and mix well. Throw in the kaffir lemon leaves. Cover with a lid and let it cook for an hour to an hour and a half until the meat gets tender. Taste before broiling. Add more salt if necessary. (Leaving the chicken in its braising liquid overnight, and broil the next day, would amplify the taste.)
Set oven to broil. Place the chicken thighs on an oven rack set over a tray (so that any leftover juice has a place to go). Broil each side for 4-5 minutes until the color turn to golden brown. Be careful, it’s super hot!
Great with steamed white rice, chilies, and a vegetable soup side dish (coming up on the blog soon).
Serve two generously