The wok is a perfect cooking utensil for any type of cookery, not just Chinese or Asian. Its versatility is what makes it so universally popular. This recipe was inspired by a friend’s mother from the south of France. Madame Taurines often braised veal with whole garlic. I have substituted chicken and added my own Chinese touches, which work just as well. Braised in this way, the whole garlic becomes mild and sweet. Most of the resulting sauce cooks off, leaving a tender, aromatic chicken dish, and the bonus is that it is quick to make. Serve this dish with potatoes or plain rice and another vegetable dish.
Blot the chicken thighs dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle them evenly with the salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat a wok or large frying-pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, turn the heat to low. Add the chicken skin-side down and slowly brown on both sides for about 10 minutes. Drain off all the excess fat, add the garlic and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry, soy sauce and stock or water. Turn the heat to as low as possible, cover and braise for 20 minutes until the chicken is tender.
When the chicken and garlic are cooked, remove them from the wok with a slotted spoon and place them on a warm platter. Sprinkle with the chives and serve at once.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.