Once in a while I cook for my mom and when I do, I always try to make the dish no-salt-added. Why? Because she developed hypertension early (in her late 30s I think) and since then she has tried to reduce her salt intake. So her taste buds (and ours, too because she cooked reduced salt for everyone!) favors the blander side of food.
When I cook of course I use soy sauce and other condiments to flavor the dish, but if the dish is for my mom, I would never add table salt or sea salt, or fish sauce. Of course it goes without saying, we don’t use MSG.
It is not easy to please my mom, but somewhere along the way, I stopped trying. I just send over the dish and if she has no complaints, then it’s good news to me!
Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms, no salt added.
400 grams boneless, skinless chicken wings
12 pieces dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated, reserve soaking liquid
100 grams cooked chestnuts
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
about 8 thin slices of ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 pieces star anise
1 piece cinnamon stick
1 to 2 pieces dried chili
3 stalks leeks, sliced diagonally, white and green parts separated
boiled eggs, optional
Rinse the chicken thighs and remove the fatty membranes. Slice each into 2 or 3 chunks. Marinate for at least 30 minutes in the mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of mushroom soaking liquid, half the ginger, half the garlic, star anise, and cinnamon stick.
Saute the remaining garlic and ginger, onion, dried chili, and white part of the leeks. Add the chicken and marinade. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved mushroom liquid by tablespoons. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the boiled eggs in the last 3 to 5 minutes, if using. Thicken with cornstarch slurry. Garnish with the green part of the leeks. Serve immediately.
The secret to the dish is the very flavorful mushroom soaking liquid!