Sunday, 6 March 2011

Asian minced chicken in lettuce boats

This dish is a bit of a hybrid, a cross between two of my favourite Asian bites; Chinese chicken shung and Thai larb gai.

Before we get to the recipe here's a brief overview of each...

Chinese chicken shung is minced chicken wok fried with carrot, water chestnut, bamboo shoot and spring onion in oyster sauce, then eaten inside iceberg lettuce leaves all rolled up like a pancake roll.

Larb gai is a hot and sour minced chicken dish that's simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice and fish sauce, then finished with lots of fresh mint, basil, coriander and toasted ground rice.

Both are delicious and simple to make, and today when I couldn't decide between the two a bit of a mishmash occurred with very tasty results (of course I would say that, but it really was very good indeed).

If you can't get hold of toasted ground rice and don't fancy making your own, don't worry. It does add extra texture but it's just as good without, or alternatively try using crushed peanuts which you could toast in a dry frying pan. 

Lunch for two:
3 chicken breasts, skin off and blitzed briefly in a food processor until minced
2 carrots, peeled and finely grated
2 shots of Shaoxing rice wine
2 shots light soy sauce
1 shot Thai fish sauce
1 shot mirin
1/2 - 1 red chili, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
50mls pork or chicken stock
A handful each of fresh coriander, basil and mint, finely shredded just before serving
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated/minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
A few tablespoons toasted ground rice powder (you can make this yourself by dry toasting in a pan some sticky white rice until it's lightly golden, then grinding in a pestle and mortar)
1-2 little gem lettuces - the leaves separated

- Into a saucepan add the Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, chili, garlic, ginger, lime juice, stock and carrots and bring to a simmer on a low heat
- Add the minced chicken and stir through, simmering on a lowish heat for around 10 minutes until cooked through
- Now taste it to check the seasoning. You may want more of either the chili, lime, fish sauce or soy - it's that wonderful mixture of sour, sweet, umami and aromatic that you're looking for - let your taste buds guide you with adding extra seasoning
- Turn off the heat
- Chop the herbs and add them with the spring onions to the pan and mix through, then decant into a bowl and sprinkle with the toasted ground rice
- Serve at the table with little gem leaves

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