Chinese-style Chicken Casserole

I was astonished when I first went to Thailand to discover my Chinese mother’s chicken casserole playing a good part in the Thai canon. For a moment I thought she might have a franchise operation going.

Seriously, the Chinese influences in Thai cuisine are clear. In this case, it is in the use of black mushrooms and ginger that we see the south China style. To this Thai cooks have added their own imaginative touches and we have here an aromatic dish, very satisfying and redolent of essences of Thai cuisine.

This is a dish that reheats extremely well – I actually prefer it on the second day.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 900 g (2 lb) unboned chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 15 g (½ oz) Chinese dried black mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

Garnish

  • handful fresh coriander leaves

Method

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Remove and lightly crack them under cold running water. When they are cool, peel them and cut them in half, lengthways.

If using unboned thighs, remove the skin and bones or have your butcher do it for you. Cut the chicken into 5 cm (2 in) chunks and place in a bowl. Mix the 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce with the dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the rice wine, salt, pepper and sesame oil and pour it over the chicken. Then mix in the cornflour until all the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated. Leave the chicken to marinate for about 30 minutes, then drain it in a colander set inside a bowl.

Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes. Then drain them and squeeze out the excess liquid. Remove and discard the stems and cut the caps into quarters.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Add the groundnut oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the drained chicken and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the chicken begins to brown. When the chicken is lightly browned, transfer it to a stainless-steel colander set inside a bowl, leaving behind about 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok. While the chicken is draining, reheat the wok, add the onion, garlic, ginger and mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the remaining light soy sauce, sugar, coriander and 2 tablespoons of the rice wine and continue to stir-fry for 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Finally, add the hardboiled eggs and continue to stir-fry gently for 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve.

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