Braised Chicken with Chestnuts and Mushrooms

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!

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Abalone and Scallop Nest

For special occasions, I break out the special stuff.

The occasion I’m talking about this time was hubby’s birthday… not a special numbered birthday, but for me any birthday of his a special day!

For this dish, because the ingredients are stars by themselves, no special recipe is required.  What is crucial, however, is a good (and I do mean a REALLY GOOD) can of abalone!  Of course, fresh scallops and properly prepared bamboo shoots are important too, but these 2 ingredients can be substituted with any other seafood and vegetable.  The abalone (and its sauce) is the true star of the dish.

Drain and reserve the sauce from the canned abalone.  Sauté the bamboo shoots (cleaned, sliced, boiled and drained).  Pour in a little of the abalone sauce.  Stir-fry until the shoots and coated.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bamboo shoots to a serving dish.

In the same pan, sauté the scallops with a little more of the abalone sauce until the scallops are almost done.  Again with a slotted spoon, transfer the scallops to the serving dish, mounding the scallops in the middle of the dish.

In the same pan, pour in all of the abalone sauce and heat until it boils gently.  Add the abalone and heat through (do not over-do it or the scallops will become tough).  Using a pair of tongs, transfer the abalone to the serving plate, arranging them decoratively in a circle.

Pour the heated abalone sauce all over the dish and splash with a few drops of black sesame oil.

Enjoy while it is hot!

 

Steamed Eggs with Shrimp

This is not the soft type of steamed eggs.

This is the type of steamed eggs – the firm type – that I grew up on!  My mother’s version had dried shitake mushrooms (rehydrated of course) and ground pork.  My take on it, this particular time, is with with shrimp.

It really is an easy dish, even if our guests were impressed by it!

5 eggs
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
salt and pepper, as desired or to taste
about 8 fresh shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into strips
about 12 pieces of medium-sized shrimp, cleaned and trimmed
dash of sesame oil

Begin by readying a 9-inch pie plate and the steamer.  Bring the steamer pot to a gentle simmer.

Place the eggs in a bowl and add the water (or stock, if you prefer).  Stir gently (so that air will NOT be incorporated into the eggs).  Season to taste.

Place the mushroom slices on the bottom of the pie plate.  Pour the egg mixture in, through a sieve (this is the secret to a smooth, bubble-free dish).  Arrange the shrimp decoratively.

Steam for about 15 to 22 minutes.  Keep the heat low to low-medium. If a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, it is done.

Right before serving, splash the steamed eggs with a little sesame oil (a little really goes a long way!)

Serve immediately.

 

Minced Pork and Mushrooms, My Way…

One of the most popular dishes that my mother had in her arsenal was/is this diced pork-mushroom-tofu dish in a thick, sweet-salty sauce. I have tried to recreate it time and again but I never came close. It hasn’t stopped me from trying, and I always opt for ground pork instead of diced (less work!) but…

In any case, I prefer fresh mushrooms to dried ones, and a like a variety too, but sometimes I use dried shitakes also, when the fresh ones are unavailable.

400 grams lean ground pork
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soya sauce
4 to 5 tablespoons dark soya sauce
2 tablespoons shao xing wine
1/2 to 1 tablespoon sesame oil

300 grams assorted fresh mushrooms
or a handful of dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated

4 thin slices of ginger
1 small onion, minced finely
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely

fried shallots (or shallot sauce)
2 cups stock, part mushroom soaking liquid
(if using dried shitakes)
1 piece star anise
1 small piece cinnamon stick
1 small piece rock sugar, or to taste

Marinate the pork in oyster sauce, soy sauces, wine and sesame oil for at least half an hour.

Sauté the ginger, onions and garlic.

Add the pork.  Stir fry until pork is almost done.  Add the mushrooms. Stir briefly.

Add the shallots, stock and spices.

Simmer until almost all the liquid is gone.  Or, to make a real soft, mushy dish, put in a crockpot or thermal cooker.

Serve with boiled eggs, garnished with fried shallots.

 

 

 

 

Chinese-style Adobo

Adobo is the unofficial national dish of the Philippines.  But there are a thousand and one ways to make it – it seems that every one of my countrymen has his own family recipe for it.  Add to that a subculture, such as mine and another form of adobo is born!  But, how it could be legitimately called an adobo dish, I don’t really know!  For one thing, the dish does not have a drop of vinegar in it!

My recipe –

1 kilo pork belly, sliced into cubes (rinsed and cleaned)
12 to 20 pieces dried Chinese mushroom, rehydrated
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 pieces dried chili
2 pieces star anise
2 tablespoons each oyster sauce, thick soya sauce, light soya sauce, and dried mushroom soaking liquid
additional soy sauce, optional
1-1/2 to 2 cups water, or just enough to cover the pork

Sauté the garlic until soft and fragrant.  Add the dried chili and star anise.  Stir fry several seconds.  Put in the sauces (take care the mixture may sizzle) then put in the pork cubes.  Stir the mixture around until the pork is fully coated in the sauce.

Put in mushrooms and water.  Simmer until the pork is tender.  Adjust the seasonings.  After all, various brands of seasonings have different formulations and differences in tastes.

(In my case, I use my magic cooker – thermal cooker – and leave it overnight.)

Final note – the recipe I found in my mother’s recipe files originally specified 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.  I substituted it with the thick soya sauce, which has a sweetish profile.