BAN LI SHAO JI (Chinese chicken with chestnuts, for four)
4 boneless chicken thighs (about ¾ pound)
½ ounce ginger, unpeeled
2 spring onions, white and green parts separated
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1-1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon brown or white sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
7 ounces cooked, peeled chestnuts (canned, jarred or vacuum packed)
1.Cut the chicken evenly into bite sized chunks. Crush the ginger and spring onion whites slightly with the side of a cleaver or rolling poin. Cut the spring onion greens into neat 1-3/4 inch lengths.
2. Heat the oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame. When it is hot, add the ginger and spring onion whites and stir fry until you can smell their fragrance. Then add the chicken pieces and fry over high heat until they are lightly browned; don’t move them around too much, but let them rest against the base of the wok so they have the chance to take on a little color. Drain off some of the excess fat at this stage if you wish. Splash in the Shaoxing wine and stir well. Then add all the stock.
3. Bring the stock to a boil and add the sugar, soy sauce and chestnuts, with salt to taste (3/4 teaspoon should do). Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for anbout 15 minutes to allow the chicken to cook through and the chestnuts to absorb some of the flavors of the sauce, stirring from time to time.
4. Increase the heat to reduce the liquid if you wish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. At the last minute, add the spring onion greens, cover for just a moment to let them feel the heat, then serve.
NOTE: To cook and peel your own chestnuts, slice off the bases of the raw chestnuts and blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain. When cool enough to handle, remove their shells and inner skins as much as possible.
from Fuchsia Dunlop, Every Grain of Rice