Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cantonese Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice

All eyes fell upon Hong Kong in the preceding weeks as students and the public took it to the streets in an escalating rally calling for democracy and the ousting of the territory's incumbent Chief Executive C.Y. Leung. Few have foreseen the evolution of a movement that originated as a peaceful student-initiated sit-in; many were taken by surprise by the widespread coverage of the events in global media.

As the city fights for democracy, embracing and warding Hong Kong's hallmark freedom of speech and press, it is only apropos to feature a Cantonese classic - "workingman's fare" as some may call it - to honor those who are wholeheartedly urging for change, as well as those who are working diligently to keep the city in order.

"Salted fish and chicken fried rice (鹹魚雞粒炒飯)" - needless to say, is an inexpensive, savory local cha chaan teng favorite meal all-in-one. As for our non-Asian friends who are turned off by now by the thought of funky... salted fish? Hang on! Or you will seriously be missing out.

Now, there is a little twist and a little tweak that I threw in to make this easy cha chaan teng staple this much easier and approachable for the busy home cook. In place of the usual cubed chicken thigh, I call for minced chicken that will save you loads of time from dicing and cooking raw chicken. Can't find salted fish? Substitute it with anchovy fillets (or even anchovy paste that comes in a tube), which is what I did. Rest assured the flavor is spot on and will have you asking for more. Use iceberg lettuce (the norm) and chopped spring onions as you please. I used organic garlic shoots for ease of preparation and storage.

To prepare...
3-4 cups cooked rice, ideally leftovers refrigerated overnight
150g minced chicken
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 anchovy fillets
6 stalks garlic shoot, chopped
(or 2 cups finely shredded lettuce)
1 garlic clove, minced
Handful of spring onion, chopped (optional)

Marinade for chicken:
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
A dash of white pepper

1. Marinate chicken for minimum 15 mins.

2. In a wok, heat oil on very high heat, stir-fry rice until rice begins to take on color and becomes fragrant. Break any clumps. Rice should not be sticky. This is an important step that makes a huge difference. Set aside.

3. In the same wok, heat oil, add garlic, and minced chicken, stir-frying rapidly for even cooking and to avoid clumps. Add garlic shoots (if using) and anchovy and stir-fry till the heady aroma hits the air. Set aside.

Take a moment picturing yourself at a raging firestove tossing the wok like a chef!

4. On medium heat, pour beaten egg into the wok, gently stir and swirl until half cooked. Fold in rice, then add the chicken and anchovy and stir-fry everything together, for another minute. Season with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine or white pepper to taste. Finally, add the lettuce and spring onion (if using) and give it a final stir. Serve hot on a platter or in bowls!

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