The real challenge of staying healthy is when you are so swamped with work that you are unable to even visit the market. Now I dislike heading for any packaged food items be it sauces, instant noodles and lately even biscuits. Why? Well why should I when I can cook anything I want in the kitchen. These are full of preservatives , too salty and well more unhealthy than pure butter.
Well well so it is 5:30 p.m. and I have my afternoon tea with the baked shortbread biscuits from the previous day and refreshed and enegized sit down for work . I think I am doing myself a favour by eating half a red bell pepper fro lunch because of the inability to go for the walks but suddenly there is a growl. Well I shall exactly describe what I felt by 6 p.m. and saw in my head. It was as if moles and mice were scurrying in my stomach, playing football , doing a zumba dance. Now I was frustrated enough to simply head for my grandmother's hidden stack of instant noodles, 86 year old woman sure loves her maggi when I fought back, No I cannot do that to myself with instant noodles I shall not let preservatives and packaged food.
Now I have this habit of taking breaks and searching for recipes and for quit sometime I had searched for a blog featuring Chinese food from China. I have heard most people say and well believe it as well as to how altered our Indian Chinese is so i wanted to know what our neighbours actually eat. i remember watching a particular programme on Travel and Living some 5 years ago where this man made this scrumptious pork dish in a serene mountainous village of china which looked tempting enough for me to try and cross the borders. It did not have any unknown mystifying ingredient, it was simple, sesame oil, Chinese 5 spice and garlic chili paste fried et all and the close shot of that beautifully prepared dish served with sticky rice shall be etched in my memory forever. It was so tempting simple white rice a bit for us 'sticky ' was still an unknown word so I shall go with moist with succulent pieces of reddish brown a bit temptingly oiled pork. So I have searched high and low for recipes all these years only to have gotten the American Chinese, Indian Chinese and a lot of amalgamated Chinese dishes.
So imagine how my heart did leap with joy when I found this blog featuring authentic looking Chinese dishes. Now I do not know whether they are authentic where the Chinese will get offended etc but the a quick intense research on the ingredients featured in the blog and China's cuisine proves that it is as authentic as it can get. Now Just like India China has many a districts with many a regional cuisine and I have no idea which region of Chinese cuisine this blog explores but anyways so this one recipe had caught my attention . the picture looked beautiful, A bed of flat white noodles topped with cucumbers and steamed chicken with sauce. Light healthy inviting. A quick check of the recipe mad em realize how easily I can grab all the ingredients sitting in Calcutta not to mention Calcutta's old old old connection with China.
By this time it was 6:30 p.m. and my stomach was making itself heard quite loudly so off I headed into the kitchen to check my pantry. Curses to myself for not stocking it well. There were bell peppers, garlic, onions and eggs and a few other things which are always handy in all kitchens. I immediately got down to work. ah what did I find , rice wine vinegar , I couldn't help smiling a bit.
The first thing I did was to call Mother darling to request for some chicken. I did modify the recipe quite a bit to suit the available ingredients and time in hands.
So i did not have soy sauce or sesame oil but did have sesame seeds etc etc . Not getting into the original recipe I shall share what I used
For the chili garlic sauce
10 fat garlic cloves
6 dried red chilies
Rice wine vinegar
pinch of sugar
For the final sauce simply whisk together
1 tablespoonful of the fiery chili garlic sauce
2 tsp of sesame paste
4 to 5 peppercorns
2 small onions steamed with the chicken
salt as per taste
Soak the garlic , sugar and chilies in enough vinegar to just cover them and leave it in peace.
1 Bell peppers
1.5 cups Rice: I did use basmati rice but would suggest using a more sticky rice which remains sticky moist and ideally not what we Indians look down upon.
300 gm or more Chicken marinated in ginger paste and sesame paste
Individual water poached eggs on top
Slice cucumbers and bell peppers as thinly as possible and put it in the refrigerator.
Very lightly toast sesame and make a paste with a little sesame oil or in my case I used refined oil. keep some extra. You can use this as raw tahini for later usage. For feel free to use 1 cup of sesame. You do two work with one shot. Store in air-tight containers in the refrigerator.
Make your chili garlic paste by blending everything in with water or oil. Now I have previously used water which retains a lovely red colour but cannot be stored for further use and so I used refined oil . I suggest using sesame oil if available .
Marinate chicken with ginger and sesame paste and salt and let it soak. I did not steam it but instead used Half a teaspoonful of oil and let the juices get locked with the chicken for 4 minutes stirring constantly over high flame and then added water and covered and cooked till they fell apart in my hands. I added the onions and took them out after sometime to get rid of the raw smell. when done shred your chicken with your hands, it should be soft enough to fall apart and use the remaining stock to soak your rice bed.
Blend all the ingredients of the sauce and it is ready.
Arrange the rice on the a plate, add your vegetables and then the shredded chicken and finally the sauce topped with water poached eggs per person. I loved my dinner. in case you are using basmati rice or any rice which is not sticky soak the rice with a bit of chicken stock for moisture when arranging it. I loved this new unique taste.
Difference with the original recipe : Rice is not used but bean noodles. There is the addition of soy sauce and it uses no eggs. the chicken is simply steamed with sesame oil and nothing else. there arent any bell peppers which are used.
I did thoroughly enjoy my dinner. Hope you do so as well