6-6: Ginger Chicken

It’s not unusual to find a “ginger chicken” recipe on a Chinese takeout menu, but in case you’re looking to cut down on those high restaurant and delivery costs, here’s Simply Delicious‘ take on it: 6-6: Ginger Chicken. I don’t really buy meat anymore these days (unless you count the occasional boiled chicken/plain white rice I make when the dog gets an upset tummy), but from what I can tell, even those prices are pretty much through the roof. Maybe consider Ginger Tofu instead?

I don’t even have peanut allergies and yet I look at that picture and start to get itchy. I love it though–who at Simply Delicious decided that they REALLY needed to drive home the fact that this recipe HAS LOTS OF PEANUTS? And yet, the actual recipe only calls for about half a cup.

What are we supposed to do with the rest of them? Guess it’s a good thing baseball solved that whole lockout thing.

I find it interesting that they claim this is a Chinese-inspired dish, yet they use flour instead of cornstarch and include whipping cream. I guess they couldn’t help adding a bit of French influence where they could (despite the fact that it’s not culturally accurate), but it’s an especially odd choice for the fat-conscious 1980s-90s.

Also, take the tip on reducing the candied ginger if you’d like–it’s not cheap and it’s very pungent. You can even make your own if you’re feeling adventurous.

Ingredients. I have my old trusty bottle of vermouth that I “borrowed” from my parents a few years ago (and now lives in my pantry). Some swaps–coconut cream for whipping cream, non-dairy butter instead of the real stuff, and some “chik’n” that’s homemade (courtesy of the Gentle Chef, as always). Also, I have “crystallized” instead of “candied” ginger, but Martha Stewart tells me they’re essentially the same (in case that’s all your grocery store carries as well).

There’s also a bag of peanuts that aren’t shown here, but you’ll see them later. Man, all that noise about the peanuts and I didn’t even include them in the ingredients picture.

Sous chef helps by breaking down the mushrooms for me.

I work on getting some color on my chik’n pieces. Normally you’d be doing this with full bone-in pieces of chicken, but usually this is how it’s served in restaurants anyway (small boneless pieces), so this works for me even if we’re not quite following the recipe recommendations.

Once the chik’n had color, I tossed in the sliced mushrooms.

After the mushrooms cook down, I pulled them and the chik’n out of the pan and set it to the side. Obviously this is a different method than what is prescribed, but the meatless stuff works differently than the real stuff so there’s some accommodations that need to be made.

If I put these in there on low for 20-25 minutes with the cover on, you won’t get juicy, succulent chicken–you’ll get soggy, unflavorful “meat-bread”. I’ll take flavorful, sautéed meat-bread instead, thank you.

Making a roux, which is where we start to really stray from most traditional Chinese cooking.

But, I soldier on. I add my vermouth, which is essentially replacing shaoxing wine because they probably thought you wouldn’t be able to easily find that in the 1980s-90s. You can also use rice wine if you’re not into using vermouth.

Once the roux thickens, I add in my coconut cream. At least this FEELS a bit more authentic than using straight-out whipping cream (although now we’re starting to cross into Thai territory, but at least it’s closer in spirit than French influence. If this was Vietnamese food, then perhaps we’d be more inclined to include French-influenced ingredients).

Can you tell I used to be a history teacher? I can’t help myself, I’m sorry.

The ginger is in there too, but all I see is PEANUTS.

Final dish, spruced up with some Chinese snap peas and sliced scallions for garnish. I’m not running off to start my own Chinese restaurant anytime soon, but I think it went about as well as it could have. It tastes gingery and oh-so-PEANUTTY.

Grade B+