How to make a chicken quack like a duck

Actually, it was only part of a chicken, not the whole thing. And it didn’t quack; it was very much cooked. The end result, however, did taste awfully – I mean, deliciously – like duck.

Recipe #22: Hannah’s quacking chicken stirfry. Serves 4.

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp sesame oil
• 1 large clove garlic, sliced thinly
• 1 small onion, sliced roughly
• 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced thinly [it’s always thumb-sized, isn’t it? And whose thumb? It’s actually about a heaped teaspoonful]
• 3 star anise
• 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
• 2 tbsp honey
• meat from about 3/4 of a roast chicken, shredded
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 carrot, thinly sliced
• 3 celery stalks, cut into thick, diagonal slices
• a large handful of sugar snap peas, sliced in half lengthways
• half a head of broccoli, cut into florets
• 2 tsp fish sauce
• 2 tbsp mirin
• 1 1/2 tsp garam marsala
• 2 tsp cornflour
• 1/2 cup water
• your favourite noodles [This goes really well with rice vermicelli, hokkien or two-minute noodles. Cook your noodles according to packet direction but, instead of adding any flavouring provided, dissolve a chicken stock cube in the cooking water prior to adding the noodles.]
• a handful of salted macadamias and cashews, roughly chopped/crushed

Start by placing the oils and garlic in a wok. Heat the wok to medium-hot, then add the onion, ginger, star anise, dark soy and honey. Stir frequently. Once the aromas are released (maybe a minute later), add the chicken and decrease the heat. Place a lid over the wok for a couple of minutes.

Now to the vegies. Increase the heat again. Remove the lid and add the white wine to the wok. Add the carrot and celery, stir frequently for about a minute, then add the sugar snap peas and broccoli and stir. Place the lid back on the wok for a minute or two – just until the broccoli is bright green. [You can add any vegetables you want, really. Baby corn and red capsicum would also be great.]

In a cup, add the fish sauce, mirin, garam marsala and cornflour to the water and mix really well – you may want to mix this while waiting for the chicken to cook. Push the ingredients in the wok to one side and combine this new mixture with the liquid at the bottom of the wok. Stir constantly, until the liquid begins to thicken, then coat the chicken and vegetables with the sauce.

Serve immediately atop the noodles, with a generous sprinkle of the crushed nuts.

This dish was full of texture variation and a truly titillating spice balance. My mouth is watering as I type.

Once again, I forgot to take a photo before hunger took over. So here are the leftovers (aka “lunch”, minus the crushed nuts):

I have tasted Peking duck only once [superb in pancakes, followed by sang choy bow at Sydney’s Golden Harbour restaurant, about a month ago] and my chicken stirfry left a similar taste in my mouth. It inspired me to seek out the core flavours for Peking duck.

It surprised me to discover that such simple flavours are used to prepare such a complex dish. I found one recipe that recommends a marinade of honey/maltose, white vinegar, dry sherry and cornflour, while this one additionally uses ginger and spring onion. While it takes some time to prepare (after cooking, the duck must be dried for several hours), the method is actually quite easy. I will try this at some stage in the future.

I used to cook by feel. In the last 6 months, I have become more mindful, thinking of flavour combinations and menus before I start cooking, and jotting down recipes as I cook. I have tried to communicate this through my posts; I hope this comes across.

Until next time,

H 🙂


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