food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘water spinach

red-cooked whole chicken + mushroom and kangkong stir-fry

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This is a popular cooking method in China where it is used for all kinds of meats and hard-boiled eggs. Served either hot or cold, the remaining stock is reused as a master stock. Ingredients vary from cook to cook but usually include soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rock sugar and whole spices such as star anise and black cardamom.

Place your chicken into a pot which is not too big. Add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce, some large slices of ginger, a few cloves of garlic, 2 star anise, a black cardamom pod and some cassia bark (or a small cinnamon quill). I don’t usually add rock sugar. Fill the pot with cold water until the chicken is just covered and bring to a boil very slowly. Simmer, turning the chicken at least once, until it is cooked. You can tell when the chicken is cooked if the juices run clear when you cut into the thigh. If you have a meat thermometer it should read 74ºC (165ºF). Remove the chicken from the stock and drizzle with a little sesame oil before serving. Serve with steamed rice.

Here’s a lovely simple stir-fry to serve with the chicken.

Trim and slice a few king oyster mushrooms, wash and chop a bunch of kangkong (also known as water spinach or morning glory) and peel and lightly crush a clove of garlic. Place your wok over high heat and when hot, add some peanut oil. Fry the clove of garlic until just beginning to brown and discard it. Now add the oyster mushrooms and cook for a minute or two before adding the kangkong. Finally add a little salt, sugar and white pepper and toss well to combine.


Written by michelle picker

March 6, 2019 at 12:15 am

thai fried rice

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Left-over rice in the fridge and holy basil in the garden inspired this fragrant dish.


The 3-4 cups of rice for this dish are best cooked ahead and refrigerated – left-overs are perfect. To prepare the rest of the ingredients cut 3 chicken thighs into small pieces, cut 1 or 2 carrots into small pieces, finely mince 3 cloves of garlic, slice a red pepper and 1 or 2 red chillies, chop the stems of a bunch of water spinach (kang kung) into short pieces, chop an onion, finely slice 2-3 spring onions, wash and pick 1 cup of holy basil leaves and lightly beat 3 eggs. For the flavouring combine 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with 1-2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce and a liberal sprinkling of ground white pepper. When you are ready to cook, heat a few tablespoons of water in a wok and pre-cook the carrots a little then set aside. Discard the water and heat some oil in the wok. Cook the chicken and set it aside. Add more oil if necessary and when hot add the garlic briefly then the carrots, pepper, chillies and water spinach stems. After a couple of minutes add the onion then shortly afterwards the rice. Return the chicken to the wok and stir everything well to combine, making sure the rice separates and everything is heated through. Make a well in the centre of the rice, pour in a little more oil and add the eggs. Allow them to set before covering them and mixing then through the rice. Finally add the flavouring, the spring onions and the holy basil. Remove from the heat and continue to mix until everything is well combined. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.


For a refreshing green salad, wash and chop the water spinach leaves and combine them with a finely sliced spring onion, a finely minced green chilli, ½ a cup each of chopped coriander (cilantro) and Vietnamese mint and ½ a cup of chopped peanuts. For the dressing combine 3 teaspoons of Thai fish sauce, 3 teaspoons of sugar, the juice of a lime, a finely minced clove of garlic and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Written by michelle picker

May 5, 2014 at 5:59 am

tofu with mushrooms + water spinach stir-fry

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The people of Sichuan (Szechuan) Province in China are fond of hot and spicy food. This recipe, adapted from Eating Well Magazine, is no exception although you can moderate it to suit your taste.


Drain your fresh tofu on several paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt on each side. Place more paper towels on top and weigh the tofu down with a plate. Set this aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Make a sauce by mixing together 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of black rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, ½ a teaspoon of sesame oil, ¼ of a teaspoon of cornstarch, ½ a teaspoon of crushed dried red chillies and 3 tablespoons of water. Finely dice 4 cloves of garlic, slice 2 spring onions and slice mushrooms – I used 200g (7 oz) each of fresh shitake mushrooms and fresh oyster mushrooms. Heat some oil in a flat fry-pan and briefly add the garlic and then the mushrooms and spring onions. Cook until just softening and remove to a plate. Now remove the paper towels from the tofu and slice the tofu into squares. Add more oil to the fry-pan and fry the tofu over medium heat until brown on both sides. Return the mushroom mixture to the fry-pan along with the sauce. Gently mix through and continue to cook until the sauce is clinging to everything. Serve with rice and a green vegetable.

Here is a recipe for a Sichuan style stir-fry of water spinach (avaiable at Asian grocery stores).


Finely dice 4 cloves of garlic and finely slice 2 fresh birds-eye chillies. Wash 2 bunches of water spinach and slice into shorter lengths. Heat some oil in a wok and when hot add the garlic, chilli and ½ a teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns (also available at Asian grocery stores). This step will only take a few seconds as the garlic should not brown so have the water spinach ready to add next. Cook the water spinach until the stems are just tender enough to eat. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of sesame oil, stirring through before serving.

Written by michelle picker

May 28, 2013 at 7:00 am