I just came back from a nice long trip to Boston to visit family for the holidays. I have to admit: it's been very nice to take a break from blogging for a short while. Having been a blogger for so long (5 years!), I sometimes have a lot of trouble separating it from daily life. It's not like having a 9-5 job, where you can mostly leave your work at the office. Weeknights? Why not stay up until midnight working on a post? Weekends? Perfect time for recipe-testing!
In the past year or so I've gotten much better about setting aside time just for relaxation. I now leave at least an hour before bed for reading or something similarly relaxing, instead of just going straight for editing photos to hitting the pillow. Saturdays have become unplug days (well, mostly...checking email on the phone doesn't count, right?)
Needless to say, my habits could get better. And that's one resolution for 2013, to be more efficient with work so that I have enough leisure time to recharge my batteries.
Another resolution is to actually use the many, many cookbooks sitting on my shelves. I am somewhat of a cookbook-collecting fiend and keep buying them even though I'm quickly running out of space to store them. Every crevice of my apartment has cookbooks, from the coffee table to the wine cart to underneath my bed. Yet for some reason, I don't cook out of them as often as I should.
I received a copy of The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook a few months ago and regretfully haven't had a chance to cook out of it until now. I've been following Pat's blog for a few years and it has always made me hungry-nostalgic for dishes from all over Asia. The Brandied Chicken and Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce from her cookbook seemed like the perfect quick and easy dish to help me transition from the vacation state of mind.
I made only a few small changes, such as using chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs. (As a big advocate for the deliciousness of chicken thighs, this is a substitution which I almost never make, but for some reason three supermarkets near my apartment were all out of them that day.) But this dish is great with either ingredient. I also added a bit of Chinese rice wine to loosen the chicken from the pan, and the light flavor went well with the brandy. All in all, a very easy comfort food dish to start off the new year.
Brandied Chicken and Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 8 ounces white button or cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1 scallion, chopped or thinly sliced for garnish
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and stir-fry until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Swirl in the rice wine to loosen the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mushrooms, then add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and brandy and simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle scallions on top, and serve.