Yes, it’s true. I lived with a Chinese chef for six years, at the end of which I could cook…this dish. That might not sound like much, but wait until you see how happy it makes everybody and then you will understand that at least I picked the right dish.
Chicken wings – one to two kgs depending on how many you are cooking for and how big your frying pan is. I get the butcher to chop off those rather useless tips, leaving the two meatier parts, still joined together.
Broccoli, peel the stem and then chop the lot.
Oh, and if you can possibly get away with it, chicken livers, to be added with the broccoli. It is the most fabulous addition.
The sauce ingredients:
Good quality dark Chinese soy
Star of anise
After you have set rice boiling do this:
Heat a large frying pan, add the chicken wings and stir-fry to brown a little. No oil is needed. Sprinkle in a generous quantity of the soy, at least a couple of tablespoons, I’d say, though the brand and size of your finished dish will determine this. Add the sesame oil, sugar, star of anise and stir vigorously, stll on a fairly high temperature, but don’t burn the sauce. Add water as soon as you feel it is necessary. When the dish is boiling vigorously, turn heat down, but keep it at a strong simmer. Check now and then to add water if necessary. You want the chicken sort of covered to begin with but a concentrated sauce at the end.
Turn the chicken at least once so that it gets that lovely soy brownness to it all over.
When the chicken is cooked, maybe half an hour – it is wings, so you can’t overcook them and you want them sufficiently cooked that they come away from the bone without a struggle, the bone should slip out of the meat – add the broccoli (and liver, I hope). It can sort of steam on top (mix in the liver). You might have to bring everything back to the boil again as this will cool it down, having the broccoli added. Stir the broccoli in as it cooks. When it is done to your likeness – it is nice ‘overcooked’ by Chinese standards, if that is what your guests will prefer – take off the heat.
Turn into a large serving bowl with a ladle for the sauce. Rice is in a separate bowl, or even in the saucepan at the table. Keep it hot.
Make sure each guest has a finger bowl and serviettes. A small Chinese bowl will do. There are two ways to make this. One is to use tea: a little tea at the bottom of each bowl and boiling water on top. The other is boiling water to which lemon juice is added.
A bowl for bones, there are plenty of them!
Good Chinese tea – it is worth paying through the nose for.
You’d think silence is a neutral thing but it isn’t. The worst silence I’ve experienced was that of a house of some drug addict friends of mine. You had only to walk in the door to feel the dis-ease of the silence. The silence of blissful eating is the thing I think of as being the exact opposite of this. It is such a compliment, that silence which takes over when you put good food on the table. It means more than any comment would.
This is one of those everyday, as opposed to restaurant style, Chinese dishes. There are a million variations, this is just the one I learnt.