[Go to my short story, Cooking Lesson, which features this recipe.]
Recipe: Bok choy with steamed chicken and shiitake mushrooms
- 8 whole, dried shiitake mushrooms
- boiling-hot water
- ¼ cup thin soy sauce, low-sodium if possible
- 2 tablespoons sherry
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 scallions, sliced into pea-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 8 pieces chicken thighs
- 8-12 small heads baby bok choy, washed well, ends trimmed, and quartered lengthwise partway
- for serving: cooked rice
Place the dried mushrooms in a medium bowl and pour about 2 or 3 cups of boiling-hot water over them. Allow them to soften, about 30 minutes, adding more hot water if necessary. When the mushrooms are soft, discard the water. Squeeze out the extra water from the mushrooms, cut off the stems, and slice the caps in half, or, if large, in thirds.
In another bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, sesame oil, scallions, and ginger. Pull the skins off the chicken thighs, and trim off any excess fat. Cut each thigh into three pieces, once lengthwise, then crosswise through the bone. Put the chicken in the bowl with the soy sauce mixture, and stir them together until they are well-combined. Marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Add water to a pan with a steamer or wok with a steamer rack; bring water to a boil, covered. Add the mushrooms to the chicken and stir to combine. If using a pan and steamer, place a round, straight-sided cake pan or pie plate inside the steamer, then transfer the chicken, mushrooms, and sauce to the pan or plate. Place the steamer on the pan of boiling water, and cover. If using a wok with a steamer rack, transfer the chicken, mushrooms, and sauce to the cake pan or pie plate. Carefully place the pan or plate in the wok, and cover. Steam until the chicken is just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the bok choy to the boiling water, pushing them into the water and stirring them around gently. Return the water to a boil, and cook the bok choy until bright green and still firm, about 3-4 minutes. Drain in a colander.
Carefully remove the chicken in its cake pan or pie plate from the steamer or wok. Arrange the bok choy around the edge of a serving plate. Spoon the chicken and sauce in the center of the plate. Serve hot, with rice.