Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grandmother's Chicken with Wild Mushrooms

It's funny what a difference the right cookbook can make. This isn't my first cookbook from Mai Pham, but her other one (The Best of Vietnamese & Thai Cooking) wasn't deemed good enough to make the move. Nothing quite turned out properly and I think I was even convinced that I just didn't like Vietnamese food that much. But given my experience at restaurants, I knew that wasn't the case. Knowing the other book wasn't really authentic Thai food and that I'd been unhappy with the quality of those recipes, I decided to give Vietnamese another chance. Somehow I ended up back with a Mai Pham book, but this time around? I'm so much happier with the results. This is a great weeknight dish. Simple to pull together, but full of rich unami. The dried mushrooms do call for a 30 minute soak, but the dish cooks up very quickly and the rest is just chopping. Don't forget the rice. We both thought the dish was just a bit on the salty side (even homemade stock without added salt), so you might want to reduce the salt in the mushrooms further if you tend to go light on salt like we do.

One year ago: Slow Braised Beef with Potatoes
Two years ago: Roasted Beets with Cumin-Mint Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Mashed Brussels Sprouts
Four years ago: Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin

Grandmother's Chicken with Wild Mushrooms (from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table)

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts of things, cut into thin bite-sized strips
3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
2 shallots, sliced
8 dried black mushrooms (or cloud ear), soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, drained, stemmed, and halved
1 cup white or brown mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp salt (see note)
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh chicken stock
5 sprigs cilantro, cut into 2" lengths

1. Place soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl and stir.
2. Add chicken to sauces and toss to coat.
3. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in large skillet over moderate heat. Add shallots and stir until fragrant, 20 seconds.
4. Add black mushrooms, white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, and salt. Cook until mushrooms are soft, 3 - 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
5. Add remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil to pan over medium heat. Add garlic and chicken and stir-fry until meat turns white, 2 - 3 minutes.
6. Add chicken stock and mushrooms and cook until all ingredients are cooked, 3 minutes.
7. Transfer to a plate, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

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