Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy Crap, its Chili Chicken.

Hey all,
I'm just about finished at my current co-op job, and I've come to note some big traditions here that I'll definitely miss. One that harkens back to the days of their old office at Rexdale (yes, THAT Rexdale) is a love for Indian-Chinese food. Indian Chinese food, in the sense that I'm familiar, is insanely spicy and delicious, and not for the faint of heart.

A usual run takes about ten of us up there for a bowl of hot and sour soup and my favourite, Chilli Chicken. Some go for fish, some get it 'dry' (without sauce, and spicy as all hell), but I got for the Chilli Chicken, Wet, with Half Rice (because they give you an entire farm's worth sometimes.

To experience this, go anywhere around Rexdale and Martin Grove in Toronto, and look for Hakka Chinese food. It's complicated where this name comes from and applies, but so, so worth it. We go to the China Garden at Airport and Derry Road.

Also, yes - my love for Canadian-Chinese food is more and more strengthened by this place. It's a dangerous mix, but so. damn. good.

Anyways! Here's the recipe, with no photos (sorry) because it's a pretty speedy, involved recipe. Like many dishes, most of the work is in the prep, with little cooking time.

You'll need
  • 2-3 Green chilis (minced or sliced)
  • A clove or two of garlic (minced)
  • About an inch of ginger (minced)
  • Half a decent size onion (thin slices)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts or 3 thighs (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, and some cayenne/chili powder if you're a badass (Like a certain Mr. Kalra. Man, that guy is intense about his spicy food)
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 3 tbsp water - keep this aside and ready, and stir again before putting in. It tends to separate quickly.
On med-high heat, cook the chilis, garlic, and ginger until your apartment smells delicious (as I assume it already does. Then toss in the onions. Brown those suckers.

When content with the onions, toss the chicken in to cook. If it has skin or fat, leave it in for maximum goodness. Also, the fat renders, yadda yadda, helps form the base of the sauce, blah blah.

When the chicken is cooked through, toss in the soy sauce mix to cook for a bit. It will smell very strongly like soy sauce, but begin to sweeten. When it smells less like overpowering sodium juice , and more like good stuff, toss in the water. This seems a bit odd, and it is to me, but I'm not familiar with the cooking style really.

Let this mix come to a boil. Then stir up and toss in your cornstarch mixture. Quickly mix this to integrate, and let it thicken. When thickened pretty well, cover and leave for a few minutes. Serve this over rice, and burn your eyebrows off and lose any kind of a cold you ever had in your life. To reduce the spice, cut back on the chilis - but that's really part of the appeal so you're missing out if you do.

The cornstarch is an odd addition to me, not being particularly familiar with it. Turns out it's a very important part of sauce construction in Asian cooking, so for more information, go here (also looks like a pretty amazing recipe.

The chicken can also be replaced with tofu if you swing that way.

Enjoy! Don't blame me for singed eyebrows and steam coming out of the ears.

edit: thanks to Hooked on Heat for helping me get my fix

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