Stuck in a rut, and looking for something new and tasty to do with chicken?
It was Sunday, and I was tossing ideas in my head of what I should cook. I had taken out some chicken drumettes from the freezer the night before with some idea that I would cook it tonight for dinner. The whole morning, I tossed some ideas around in my head. What could I do with those drumettes?
Stuck in a Rut
I considered making Pim’s fried chicken but Nate was a little sick and it wouldn’t be a good idea to do anything fried. Then I thought of making my simple go-to dishes—oyster chicken, soy sauce chicken, or even curry chicken. But none of these choices really appealed to me.
I felt like I was really stuck in a rut. I needed to do something different. After all, it was Sunday, I wasn’t rushing too much and I had not taken any work home. So, I was really free to explore new dishes.
Right around late morning, I thought, “I’ll do something steamed”. And suddenly I recalled a recipe I had bookmarked a long time ago in one of Amy Beh’s books. It was for steamed chicken with salted fish. Hmm…I have salted fish. So, I looked for the book and there it was, this very recipe.
Amy Beh had written a little footnote on the bottom of the page saying “This is a simple yet tasty dish to cook. When you find that you have run short of ideas as to what is good to serve your family, you can try this recipe.”
It was like she KNEW what was on my mind—I had run short of ideas. I was looking for something good to serve my family (Nate had just come home after a week away in KL), and I wanted something easy but tasty. BINGO! That settled it.
Chicken with an Accent
And really, she was right. It was so easy to do and sooo delicious. Don’t be put off by the idea of using salted fish—it was the accent to an otherwise normal chicken dish.
The little flecks of salted fish gave this dish so much yumminess that it was very hard to stop eating. When you go looking for salted fish, try to find the ones that are a bit more meaty (most Asian grocery stores should carry some salted fish). Of course, over here in Kuching, the choices for salted fish are amazing and the one I got was a freshly salted fish—it wasn’t dried out, it was still somewhat soft.
You do have to marinate the chicken for at least 4 hours before cooking so I do recommend you plan ahead. Other than that, the rest of the ingredients are really simple—some young ginger, and some salt fish and you’re good to go. The only change I made was to fry the salt fish first before cooking the ginger and chicken. I thought that would allow the chicken to pick up even more salted fish flavors.
Steamed Chicken with Salt Fish Recipe
adapted from “At Home with Amy Beh 2” by Amy Beh
500g chicken (I used 10 chicken drummets)
scant 1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp Shao Hsing wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large thumb young ginger, peeled and finely julienned
50g meaty type salt fish, sliced (actually, I just eyeballed it—I used about a 2”x1/2” piece of fish)
Sliced Salted Fish and Julienned Ginger
Garnish (optional): sliced red chillies and diced green onions (I didn’t use this)
1. Season chicken with salt, sugar, Shao Hsing wine and sesame oil. Mix and leave to marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
2. Heat oil in a wok, and fry the salt fish slices till they are golden and slightly crispy. Take out of the oil.
3. In the same oil, fry the ginger slices till fragrant (about a minute) but make sure they don’t get crispy or too brown. Adjust your heat accordingly.
4. Add chicken pieces (along with any marinate) and toss around till they have lost their raw look, about 3 minutes.
5. Dish out the chicken (and all the sauces) and place on a steaming bowl (I used a small oval pyrex dish). Sprinkle the fried salted fish on top of the chicken pieces.
6. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Make sure your steamer has a lot of water to begin with so it doesn’t dry out in the middle of steaming.
Make sure you have plenty of white rice to eat this dish with. It is PERFECT with the rice. Only setback? It’ll lead to overeating! Try it and let me know what you think.