Some nights when I’m looking for a quick dinner, I often go with the typical standbys like pan-roasted salmon or any kind of stir-fry.
But recently I remembered I had a bag of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) in the freezer, and that made me crave one of the first dishes my Mom taught me to make — gai fan or chicken rice.
Growing up in Hawaii, my Mom used to make this dish by breaking down a whole fresh chicken and briefly cooking all the parts in a pan with lap cheong slices and shiitake mushrooms. Then everything goes into a pot of rice and the juices of the chicken flavor the rice as it cooks, creating a one-pot dish that blends all the flavors of the chicken and lap cheong into a delicious plate for dinner.
My version pretty much follows the concept taught by my Mom, except I just use chicken thighs cut into pieces and fresh shiitake mushrooms (instead of rehydrating dried mushrooms, which is what my Mom typically does). It’s been awhile since I made this but when I did, it just brought back memories of the simple but savory dishes of my childhood. Enjoy!
Chicken Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shiitake Mushrooms
Makes 4 to 5 servings
3 chicken thighs, bone-in with skin, cut into pieces
2 cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, roughly diced
2 Chinese sausages or lap cheong, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 cups rice (I use brown rice but jasmine rice is also nice)
1 T 5-spice powder
1 T sesame oil
1 T xiao hsing wine (Chinese rice wine)
1 T soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
2 T vegetable oil
a few julienne sticks of fresh ginger or about 1/2 teaspoon
chicken broth (about 2.5 cups)
In a small bowl, mix the chicken with 5-spice powder, sesame oil, xiao hsing wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and ginger. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
Rinse rice and add to rice cooker with enough chicken broth based on rice cooker instructions. If you don’t have a rice cooker, put rice in a pot and add enough chicken broth until the broth line is a quarter-inch above the leveled rice. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
In a skillet or large saute pan, warm a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add shiitake mushrooms to sweat them (to bring out some moisture), about 2 to 3 minutes. (Tip: To help with the sweating, add a pinch of salt to the mushrooms.) Push mushrooms to the side of pan and add the rest of the vegetable oil, increasing the heat to high. Then add chicken to brown the sides (about 2 minutes each side). Note: Don’t throw in any excess marinade because you don’t want your pan to be soupy. But if your pan of ingredients start to look dry, add a bit of the marinade as you go.
After quickly browning the chicken, then add the lap cheong and stir to mix all the ingredients in the pan, just briefly warming up the sausages. Add contents of the entire pan to the pot of cooking rice, mixing all the ingredients with the rice. Cover and continue cooking till the rice looks done (about 25 to 35 minutes depending when you add the ingredients to the rice).
When done, turn off heat and let everything sit in the pot for a couple of minutes. Then serve with steamed greens such as Chinese broccoli.
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