This is an easy, healthy, one-pot dinner that you can throw together and it tastes scrumptious and comforting. It is perfect to bung together and chuck in the oven or on the stove, letting the heat of the kitchen warm up your home. Lots of veggies will make it almost virtuous. I keep the meat to a minimum to give it flavour, marinating chicken thighs or drumsticks for a while. Here, I used Chinese oyster sauce and yellow bean sauce for a rich, salty flavour. You can use black bean sauce, but really you only want a hint of saltiness so go sparingly – a teaspoon is plenty.
Use whatever veggies you have in your fridge. I used baby bak choi and cauliflower, which worked beautifully and gave a lovely, colourful contrast to the rice and chicken. Chinese water chestnuts give a beautiful crunchy texture, and you can buy fresh, peeled ones in the market – they are usually with the vegetable seller, in a box of water near the fresh tofu. Chestnuts from a can are also fine, but rinse them well. I left them whole if they were small, and halved the bigger ones.
If you use Chinese leaves like baby bak choi or choi sum, make sure you only put them in at the very last minute, to just barely wilt through and keep that beautiful jade colour.
Use good quality chicken; I buy mine organic and frozen from Taste or Fusion, or Marketplace by Jason’s. I always think it’s better to buy and eat less meat, but better quality, and these days I rarely eat meat more than once or twice a week. In winter, if I make a dish, I make sure I use three or four cuts of very good quality meat that will stretch a dish over two or three meals that I can freeze and reheat quickly. My budget goes far further and I don’t feel deprived of meat entirely!
You can bake this in the oven or cook on the stove top, just make sure to use a lid to steam the rice and cook things through properly. It should be moist, not dried out.
- 4 chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons of Chinese oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of yellow bean sauce or 1 teaspoon of black bean sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of light soya sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 slices of ginger, minced
- 2 cups of vegetables of your choice
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup of fresh water chestnuts (roughly one can), rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 ½ cups of rice
- 5 cups of either chicken stock or ½ water, ½ white wine
- Seasoning (salt and pepper) to taste
1. Marinate the chicken thighs in sugar, ginger, half the garlic and the soya, oyster and yellow bean sauces for as long as you choose – 20 minutes is fine, although longer is obviously better!
2. In a deep dish like a Dutch oven or casserole pot, heat a little oil and fry the rest of the garlic lightly on a medium heat before browning the onion. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down.
3. Add the rice, and gently coat in the juices and oil until translucent, before adding the water chestnuts and any veggies that need a longer cooking time (e.g. carrots, potatoes and root vegetables, etc). Add salt and pepper and your liquid (stock, or water and wine), cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce your heat and leave for an hour at a low temperature.
4. After an hour, remove the lid and add the green, fast-cooking, leafy veggies before covering again. Turn the heat off and leave for 5 minutes before serving.
Enjoy your winter warmer!