Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Sesame Oil Chicken

This is a very satisfying dish to make and it is amazingly simple and tasty. It comes from an old Cantonese recipe which I have adapted over the years and it works practically every time. It also does not take long to make this dinner dish.


1. Chicken leg quarters (or mixed chicken quarters) with bone, around 300-400 gms per person
2. Small bottle of sesame seed oil (must be oil from roasted sesame seeds)

From your pantry
  1. Ginger (minimum is about the size of your whole thumb, add half thumb size more for additional persons)
  2. Soy sauce (light)
  3. Sweet sherry
  4. Rice (for the staple), half a cup per person
  5. Pepper (ground)
The secret to this dish is heat - you will need to cook everything very quickly under pretty high heat from your gas or electric ring. The flavour comes from the interaction between the bones and the sherry and soy sauce. If done correctly, a lot of the ginger would also have "melted" into the sauce giving it a unique piquancy.


Start by cooking the rice, as follows:

1. Wash the rice in your smaller saucepan until the water runs a little clearer (use half a cup per person)
2. Pour off water and add back clean water in roughly 1.25:1 proportion, ie. if you used a cup of rice, now add 1 1/4 cups of water to the WET rice
3. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and cover saucepan
4. Put on gas or electric ring at high heat, until rice boils hard, then turn it down to minimum. Rice will be cooked in 15 mins more.

Now here is how to do the main dish, which you can start once the rice has started to cook. Remember, once you start cooking, leave the cooking ring at a high temperature throughout:

1. Cut off the inedible leg end bits from any drumstick pieces. This is to release the marrow inside the bones so that it can flavour the sauce
2. Remove the skin from the chicken pieces (optional)
3. Chop the chicken pieces across the bones into 4-5 cm chunks (it doesn't need to be precise) You will now realise the advantage of having a good sturdy knife!)
4. Peel any dirty bits from the ginger (you can leave the rest of the ginger skin on if you like)
5. Finely chop the ginger into 1 mm slices, across the grain
6. Using a high gas/electric ring setting, heat around 4-8 tablespoons of sesame oil in your larger saucepan (minimum 4 tablespoons, add 1 extra tablespoon per additional person)
7. When the oil is just starting to smoke, CAREFULLY throw in the ginger slices and stir vigorously around the oil
8. When the ginger is just starting to turn brown (1-2 mins), CAREFULLY throw in the chicken pieces. sprinkle over the ground pepper, and stir fry for around for 2 mins
9. Cover the saucepan for 2-3 mins
10. Splash in 1/4 cup of sherry and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and stir chicken pieces around the sauce
11. Cover the saucepan for 2-3 mins
12. Again, splash in 1/4 cup of sherry and 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and stir chicken pieces around the sauce
13. Cover the saucepan for around 3-5 more mins
14. Stir the chicken pieces around the sauce one last time
15. Cover the saucepan for just 1 more min
16. Do not open the cover of the saucepan. Just turn the heat off and leave for 5-10 mins.

Note: If your cooking ring is not hot enough, then allow some extra time for the periods when the saucepan is covered, say an extra minute or two. You must learn to adjust according to the cooking equipment you have available.

While you can serve the chicken by just ladling the sauce and chicken onto plates of rice, it is often nice to garnish it a little, so why not slice up a washed cucumber and ring that around the rice. Oh and you can also use some chilli sauce as well. Simple and very tasty!

No comments: