This is an easy, healthy, one-pot dinner that you can throw together in a flash, tastes scrumptious and comforting, and is super easy to bung together and chuck in the oven or on the stove. Lots of veggies will make it almost virtuous. I keep the meat to a minimum to give it flavour, marinating chicken thighs or drumsticks for a while beforehand. Here, I used Chinese oyster sauce and yellow bean sauce for a rich, salty flavour. You can use black bean sauce, but really you only want a hint of saltiness, so go sparingly – a teaspoon is plenty.
Use whatever veggies you have in your fridge. I used baby bak choi and cauliflower, which worked beautifully and gave a lovely, colourful contrast to the rice and chicken. Chinese water chestnuts give a beautiful crunchy texture, and you can buy fresh, peeled ones in the market – they are usually with the vegetable seller, in a box of water near the fresh tofu. Chestnuts from a can are also fine, but rinse them well. I left them whole if they were small, and halved the bigger ones.
If you use Chinese leaves like baby bak choi or choi sum, make sure you only put them in at the very last minute, to just barely wilt through and keep that beautiful jade colour.
Use good quality chicken; I buy mine organic and frozen from my local butcher. I always think it’s better to buy and eat less meat, but better quality, and these days I rarely eat meat more than once or twice a week. In the wetter months, if I make a dish, I make sure I use three or four cuts of very good quality meat that will stretch a dish over two or three meals that I can freeze and reheat quickly. My budget goes far further and I don’t feel deprived of meat entirely!
You can bake this in the oven or cook on the stove top, just make sure to use a lid to steam the rice and cook things through properly. It should be moist, not dried out.
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons of Chinese oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of yellow bean sauce or 1 teaspoon of black bean sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of light soya sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 slices of ginger, minced
- 2 cups of vegetables of your choice
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup of fresh water chestnuts (roughly one can), rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 ½ cups of rice
- 5 cups of either chicken stock or ½ water, ½ white wine
- Seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste
1. Marinate the chicken thighs in sugar, ginger, half the garlic and the soya, oyster and yellow bean sauces for as long as you choose – 20 minutes is fine, although longer is obviously better!
2. In a deep dish like a Dutch oven or casserole pot, heat a little oil and fry the rest of the garlic lightly on a medium heat before browning the onion. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down.
3. Add the rice, and gently coat in the juices and oil until translucent, before adding the water chestnuts and any veggies that need a longer cooking time (e.g. carrots, potatoes and root vegetables, etc). Add salt and pepper and your liquid (stock, or water and wine), cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce your heat and leave for an hour at a low temperature.
4. After an hour, remove the lid and add the green, fast-cooking, leafy veggies before covering again. Turn the heat off and leave for 5 minutes before serving.
Enjoy your meal, mamas!
A true blue Hong Kong girl, born and raised here to British and Chinese parents, Sharon works as an English teacher in a local school. In her free time, Sharon can be found eating, or with her head in a recipe book. While she enjoys cooking, she has very little patience for long, complicated recipes and has made laziness her virtue by adapting most recipes to 30 minutes or less. When not thinking about, or making food, Sharon spends her time on her island (Cheung Chau), usually at the beach. With a large cocktail in her hand. Follow Sharon on her blog Jasmine and Ginger or on Twitter @jasmine_ginger and check out her That Mama interview here.