Three Cup Chicken with Garlic Spinach
Soy sauce, sugar and Shaosing rice wine gives this dish its perfect balance.
- For the Steamed Rice
- 285g jasmine rice
- 600ml water
- For the Chicken
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin coins
- 450g (about 6) boneless-skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1cm pieces
- 60ml Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
- 60ml light soy
- 60ml toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 small handful of Thai basil leaves, or Italian basil, plus extra for garnish
- 1 medium red Fresno chilli, seeded and sliced into rings, for garnish
- For the Spinach
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 320g baby spinach leaves
- Pinch of sea salt
Rinse the jasmine rice, until the water runs clear, to remove excess starch. Place the rinsed rice in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil and then cover tightly with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes then remove from heat, keep covered and set aside until ready to serve.
Meanwhile, heat wok over high heat and add one tablespoon of oil, when it begins to smoke, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry quickly for a few seconds. Then add the chicken and let settle in pan for 30 seconds before stir-frying for two to three minutes until it has browned.
Add the rice wine, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil; reduce heat and cook on a medium for six minutes. Stir well and add the sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium/low and simmer for about five minutes, until the sauce is reduced to a thick/sticky consistency and the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat, stir in basil leaves and allow them to wilt slightly.
In a separate pan or another wok, make the spinach. Heat one tablespoon of peanut oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add spinach leaves and toss with tongs, or chopsticks, until wilted (adding a splash of water to facilitate cooking if desired); about two to three minutes.
When ready to serve, uncover the pan of steamed rice. Using a fork, fluff up the rice and divide among four plates. Serve with a generous portion of the chicken, garnish with chili rings and more basil leaves, if desired. Serve spinach on the side.
*Cook’s Note: It’s important to use toasted sesame oil, which reduces as it cooks, and not pure sesame oil, which will continue to cook and not reduce or thicken. The final dish should be slightly sticky.