To truly experience the wondrous joy of Chinese New Year (this year being the Year of the Horse), one must surround themselves with color, joy, laughter and great food. You don't have to be Chinese to celebrate this festive time of the year and many cities across American will be holding parades to honor the Year of the Horse during the 15-day celebration. Personally, I can't think of a better way of celebrating than with some classic dishes from China (real Chinese food, not Americanized Chinese food).
I really don't mean to burst any bubbles but... you do realize what you think is Chinese food is probably the farthest thing from the fact. You won't find fried rice or chow mein in China. Go to China and order sweet-and-sour whatever and there is a very good chance you will be laughed out of the country. When it comes to Chinese food the real deal is fresh and natural. There are three main cuisines in China: Mandarin, Cantonese and Szechuan. Each of these cuisines have their special mark and since with this dish we are cooking Szechuan we are going to be dealing with a little heat!
One of the reasons why Asian cooking in general, and Chinese in particular, is considered one of the healthiest diets is due to the simple fact they use meat as a flavor enhancer and not as the focal point of their dish. You will notice with this recipe (for two people) you will only use two chicken thighs, not really much meat, but there is an entire head of broccoli and bok choy. The "heat" for this dish is supplied from the wonderful chili/garlic sauce and you can find this sauce in the Asian section of any supermarket and it is rather inexpensive. If you have a finicky stomach or just don't like spicy hot food, feel free to leave the chili/garlic sauce out.
Ingredients needed to make Szechuan Chicken and Broccoli (serves 2):
- 2 chicken thighs, boned, skinned and cut into strips
- 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 Tbs. oyster sauce
- 1 Tbs. chili/garlic sauce
- 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
- 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 bok choy, stemmed with the leaves cut julienne style (thin strips)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
- Pat dry the chicken thigh strips of any excess moisture.
- Into a wok or medium saute pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat.
- Add the chicken and shallot and stir-fry 5 minutes.
- Into the wok add the oyster sauce, chili/garlic sauce and sesame oil and stir-fry 1 minute.
- Add the broccoli florets, bok choy and water and cook 5 minutes.
- Spoon onto a plate and serve!
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