Garlic Chicken – making good Chinese food at home

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Garlic chickenWell it’s almost Chinese new year so I thought this was a good time to confess to one of my biggest naughtiness(apart from beer) – takeaway food – in particular, Chinese takeaway but I always find that I’m super excited at the idea of having takeaway for tea, but then afterwards disappointed as it’s not what I had built it up to be in my head and usually find I’m disappointed.

I’m not good with the red sticky sauces that everything seems to be covered as they make me ill, so that limits the choice of dishes I can have but also just the expense. Chinese takeaway can be expensive. So the solution – learn to make a few of your favourites at home for yourself. That way you can tailor them to just how you like them and the best bit, you can make your Chinese food at home quicker than the time it takes to have your local restaurant deliver it.

A little bit of advice if you’ve never had a go at Chinese cooking before – don’t go buying a wok etc from your local supermarket. Find your local Chinese or Asian supermarket and buy one there, it’ll be cheaper and better quality than the one you buy in your local supermarket. We paid about 8 pounds for ours and I couldn’t be happier with it – and it gets a LOT of use. While you are there you can stock up on all the ingredients you’ll need for your Chinese cooking as well and again – cheaper.

One of our favourites is Garlic Chicken and we actually had this for tea last night so here’s a quick recipe to try, we learned the basics of this this from Gok Wan’s book and then tweaked it a little to suit us.

Don’t knock it, his book is full of really great recipes

Garlic Chicken

Ingredients for 2

  • 2 chicken breast diced
  • Red pepper sliced thinly
  • 2 table-spoons of corn flour
  • Ground nut oil – to shallow fry
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 table-spoons of shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tables-spoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of chili flakes
  • A pinch of sugar

getting ready to cook

How to

The best piece of advice for Chinese cooking is to prepare EVERYTHING in advance. Chinese cooking is very quick and you can easily burn or over cook food if you are trying to chop ingredients while you cook. I like to set everything up so I can just grab whatever I need easily and quickly.

  1. Dice your chicken breast into bite sized chunks and then dust with the corn flower. I find it easier to put the chicken and corn flower into a bag and give it a good shake around. It’s easier and lots neater cause corn flour goes everywhere if you are not careful.
  2. Set your chicken aside and wash your knife, board etc as you’ve just been touching raw chicken. Obvious but hey no harm in mentioning it.
  3. Right, slice your sweet red pepper very finely into strips and set aside.
  4. Half your spring onions. You want to chop the white parts and then slice the green into nice long “shreds” and set aside.
  5. Crush or finely chop your garlic and set aside.

Ok now you are ready to start cooking.

Add a little oil to your wok, enough to shallow fry about half your chicken and let it heat. You want it to the point where it starts to shimmer (or if your wok is dirty, starts to smoke – yep I’ve been there).

Careful add about half of your chicken pieces to the hot oil, be very careful not to splash yourself. Keep it moving and wait for it to turn golden. Once it’s turned golden it’s ready, so pop it onto a plate with some kitchen paper on it to dry off some of the oil. Then fry the second half of your chicken.

Now that your chicken is draining on the kitchen paper, empty the hot oil from your wok into a suitable container to cool and give your wok a good wipe down to get rid of any of the flower and dirty oil.

Now the next bit happens very quickly so have you got everything ready?

Add a little more ground nut oil – about a table-spoon and let it heat.

Drop in your red peppers and give then a fry for about 2 minutes, keeping them moving. Then add in your garlic and chopped white spring onions and keep them moving for around 1 minute – you don’t want your garlic to burn.

Now add your shaoxing rice wine, pinch of sugar and soy sauce and give it a stir. Very quickly you will notice it start to look glossy and thicken slightly at this point add your chicken back to the wok with the green ends of the spring onions and chili flakes and stir it around in the sauce for about 30 seconds.

All done. Told you it was fast!

We like to serve it over rice but you could serve it anyway you like.

If you want to see more recipes for our homemade Chinese style cooking let us know.

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