Thursday, March 10, 2011

Black Vinegar and Garlic Chicken with Steamed Broccoli

Black rice vinegar is often used for braising in Chinese cuisine. It is made with fermented sweet rice and tastes smoky and mildly sour due to its low acidity. Chinkiang is the best variety and can be found at Asian grocery stores. The complex notes of this vinegar taste fantastic in this easy chicken stir-fry.

“Velveting” is the Chinese technique used to create the tender chicken that is served in restaurant stir-fries. The chicken is marinated in a water and corn starch slurry before quickly stir-frying the pieces in peanut oil.

1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 pound/453 grams boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon black rice vinegar
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Black sesame seeds, to garnish
Steamed rice, to serve

In a medium bowl, combine the water and corn starch. Coat the chicken pieces in the mixture and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes. Use this time to slice the garlic and trim and start steaming the broccoli.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute. Toss in the chicken and stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and soy sauce; cook for 1-2 minutes. The chicken will cook very fast, but make certain it is cooked through. Add the sesame oil and toss the mixture to incorporate.

Serve over rice that has been prepared according to the package or rice steamer instructions. I always start my rice in the steamer first off. Garnish the chicken with black sesame seeds and serve with the steamed broccoli.

Serves 4

Steamed Broccoli
As a youngster I hated broccoli. At least I thought I hated it, but what I really hated was the mushy broccoli made from those frozen bags. I believe frozen broccoli is really only made for the convenience of adding into those Southern-style broccoli and cheese casseroles which is something I will pass on as well.

So I started sampling broccoli when eating stir-fries at Chinese restaurants. It was hard to resist that dark green vegetable on my plate, especially when it was slathered in a Chinese sauce. Salt, yum! Anyway, what I love is that Chinese chefs only briefly cook the vegetables to leave all the taste, texture and nutrients intended by nature.

My recipe for steamed broccoli doesn’t require any sauce or “extras.” It is delicious just as it is, but I like to add a twist of sea salt. This is my go to side dish several times a week. There is no denying how beneficial it is - it has loads of fiber and vitamin C, cancer fighting properties and it has been shown to prevent heart disease. I've even guilted my husband into eating it although he takes his with barbecue sauce - I don't recommend this.

1 head of broccoli, stalks removed
Sea salt, to taste

Fit a steamer basket into a pot that is large enough to hold the florets. Fill the pot with cold water just enough to touch the bottom of the basket. Cover with a lid. Bring the water to a boil on high heat. Set the timer for 10 minutes from the time you turn on the heat.

My stove takes 3-4 minutes to bring this amount of water to a boil, so the broccoli steams for 6-7 minutes. If you are using a gas stove, decrease the cooking time as needed. The broccoli should be dark green and just tender enough to slide a fork into the stalk.

Serves 4

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