26 September 2023

Braised Ginger Chicken

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By Christine Salins.


To occupy herself in the early days of the pandemic, Melbourne chef Rosheen Kaul created The Isol(Asian) Cookbook with her friend Joanna Hu. Both women have a mixed bag of Asian heritage. Rosheen kept herself busy by documenting all the inauthentic Asian recipes she loves to eat, and she asked Jo to illustrate them.

Chinese-ish, published by Murdoch Books (rrp $39.99), is based on that pandemic project. Clearly a dynamic duo, they’ve produced a colourful, quirky book full of Chinese-influenced dishes that are “not quite authentic but 100% delicious”, illustrated with Jo’s amazing drawings.

Spending their formative years living between two or more cultures and wondering where they fitted in, food was a huge part of the journey for both Rosheen and Jo. To her parents’ horror, Rosheen pursued a career in food, ending up as head chef at Melbourne’s Etta restaurant.

Jo swapped a career in law for a whirlwind few years in hospitality, mostly spent front-of-house. Born out of all those nights in professional kitchens, Chinese-ish has lots of tips, tricks and shortcuts for creating delicious dishes.

The book is filled with recipes that have come into their lives over the years: Chinese-influenced dishes from south-east Asia, recipes from Saturday yum cha with family, Shanghainese recipes from the time Rosheen lived there as a teenager, recipes from Jo’s childhood in Hunan, and comfort food from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland that they have enjoyed here in Australia.

The braised ginger chicken recipe here is a deeply personal one for Rosheen. It’s the recipe her mother always cooks whenever someone shows signs of illness. “If any dish were to taste like home to me, this would be it,” she says. “Served simply with steamed rice, it literally tastes like a warm hug from my mum.”

Mum’s braised ginger chicken

Serves 4

¼ cup sesame oil

6 cm piece old ginger (see note), skin on, sliced

6 to 8 chicken thigh fillets, cut in half

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

Steamed rice, to serve

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or a frying pan over medium heat, add the ginger and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry until they start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the salt, sugar, 2½ tablespoons water and soy sauce and stir. Cover and allow to simmer for 7 to 8 minutes. Pour the Shaoxing wine over the top and simmer briefly, until the chicken is cooked through. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Note: Old ginger is spicier than regular young ginger and has a fibrous, dry texture. Find it at most Asian grocers. If you can’t source any, use regular ginger instead.

Recipe and image from Chinese-ish by Rosheen Kaul and Joanna Hu, photography by Armelle Habib. Published by Murdoch Books, rrp $39.99.

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