Taiwanese chicken on Chinese Food in Minutes

Tuesday 20 April, 7:30pm on Five

The series exploring the joys of Chinese cuisine continues.

This instalment sees two Manchester nurses experiment with dishes centred around the steaming process. Ching cooks a traditional Taiwanese chicken recipe, soy-steamed cod with special egg-fried rice and steamed chicken with sour and spicy dressing. It is then the turn of her two proteges to recreate the recipes for their friends and family.

Before she starts cooking, Ching-He Huang takes her latest students, nurses Jennifer and Rebecca, to London’s Chinatown for some ingredients shopping. Today she is focusing on the wide variety of rice that is available, and its different uses. Ching explains that because rice is so vital to Chinese cooking, the terms for ‘rice’ and ‘food’ are often interchangeable in China and Taiwan. Although Jennifer and Rebecca both love good food and know how to cook, their long shifts at the hospital mean that they have become reliant on takeaways and quick snacks.

They are looking to add a touch of excitement to their repertoires and are keen to learn some quick and healthy new recipes. Ching’s aim is to teach them some fast, fresh and tasty meals to revive their flagging inspiration. Ching takes the pair to her outdoor kitchen to prepare her first recipe, a traditional Taiwanese chicken and rice dish passed down from her grandmother. She first chops up chicken thighs using a cleaver. “After a long day at work, nothing relieves stress better,” she tells the girls. She fries ginger slices and earthy Chinese mushrooms in groundnut oil, then adds the chopped chicken. She then pours in some rice wine to achieve a bitter sweetness, before adding fragrant jasmine rice and water. This combination is brought to the boil and covered for 20 minutes to create a dish similar to an Italian risotto. To garnish, Ching adds baby leaf spinach, then serves immediately.

The second dish Ching makes is ginger, chilli and soy-steamed cod with special egg-fried rice. After creating a rub of diced garlic, chilli and grated ginger, she adds the mixture to the cod fillet along with a splash of rice wine and soy sauce. As the fish steams, she scrambles an egg with prawns, peas and cooked jasmine rice, then seasons with soy sauce and ground pepper. She then puts the fried rice and the fish together in a dish and dresses it with coriander. The food is a big hit with the pair, who agree that the combination is delicious. Now it is the girls’ turn to attempt Ching’s recipes. Jennifer tackles the chicken dish while Rebecca is assigned the cod. Although both are a little nervous, Rebecca’s concerns seem more immediate. “I’m just trying to not chop my finger off,” she tells her friend as she slices the chillies.

As the pair try to avoid serious lacerations, Ching makes her third dish. She places chicken thigh pieces in a bowl, then coats them with ginger, spring onions, salt, rice wine and ground Sichuan peppercorns. She then steams the chicken for 20 minutes and starts on her dressing. She mixes diced red and green chillies with finely chopped garlic and ginger, then adds lime juice for sharpness, light soy sauce and some of the cooked chicken juices. She then puts the meat on a bed of baby spinach leaves and pours the dressing over it. She garnishes the dish with fresh orange segments and spring onions to serve.

Then the moment of truth comes as the pals plate up their food to serve to their friends and family. There is a last-minute crisis as Jennifer reveals that she forgot to add an important ingredient to her dish. “It tastes better than it looks,” Ching says, trying to reassure her. Will Jennifer’s error lead to Rebecca being crowned this week’s winner?

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