Spring is in full bloom. Everywhere around us in Cornwall there is an energy of growth and transformation. New shoots forming into delicious edibles that are reaching for the sun. This dish was inspired by this weeks visit to the Cornish Food Box where they had locally grown choy sum, pak choi, early garlic, spring onions and spring cabbage. I also picked up a local chicken. This recipe highlights one of the healthiest ways to cook chicken and is also one of the favourite ways to eat chicken in Hong Kong and China.
The produce was screaming out to be stir fried, however as there is no such thing as Cornish soy sauce I had to think of a different sauce to stir fry the greens in. I wanted a sauce that was similar to soy in taste and texture. What I am learning through experimenting with only using 100% Cornish Produce is that sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling and experience when creating recipes. You are never going to get the exact tasting meal trying to replicate dishes using different ingredients however this is not a bad thing. I can honestly say that I have tasted flavours and combinations of ingredients that I have never tasted before that are amazing . This is part of the point of this blog for me . To innovate and to try and combine different ingredients to create new flavours and dishes through using inspiration from around the world. To do this whilst using sustainable ingredients that have no air miles attached to them, that are grown locally and taste as fresh as they can be is very fulfilling and appetising.
Poaching The Chicken
Rinse the chicken especially the cavity. Submerge the chicken in a pan of water. You want to have just enough water to submerge the chicken. Add 3 chopped spring onions and a teaspoon of sea salt. Bring the water to a boil . Remove the chicken from the water and drain any excess (colder) water from the cavity of the chicken. Add the chicken to the water again and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat so that the chicken is on a gentle simmer for 45 minutes however it will depend on the size of the chicken.
You can test if the chicken is done by inserting a fork into the thigh and checking that the juices run clear . Let the chicken cool down and then slice into pieces . There is a specific way that the Chinese cut the chicken so that the breast is served with a bit of bone. They cut the whole chicken in half along the length of the chicken so that it cuts through the carcass. They then remove the leg and thigh and cut the breast across the breast and through the bone underneath usually using a meat clever. They also cut the thigh and leg across the bone.
Preparing The Greens
Take the cabbage, slice and cook in butter until soft. Blanch the pak choi and choi sum to soften them a little for stir frying. I usually just use the top ends of the choi sum (The part with the flowers as the stems can be quite chewy whist the sprouts are sweet and crisp)
Stir Fry The Greens
Heat a wok on high , add oil and wait for it to heat up. Add the cabbage, pak choi and Choy sum. Add salt and stir fry for 3 minutes. Push the veggies to the sides of the wok. At this point I added home dehydrated leek and carrot powder to help give the sauce some background however you can add very thinly sliced carrots and leeks , ideally using a mandolin to slice. Add half a cup of the Kombu water (Not the Kombu ) add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 3 teaspoons of seaweed salad, spring onions and early garlic. Mix together with the veggies for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are coated and the sauce is hot.
Make the Sauce
Very finely slice and crush the early garlic heads, finely slice the spring onions. Add the rapeseed oil to a pan and add the garlic, spring onions and 2 teaspoons of seaweed salad. Heat the oil until the spring onions are garlic start to colour. This will release their flavours into the oil.
You can either dip the chicken into the oil or pour the sauce over the chicken then serve with the stir fried greens . I garnished the meal with Choy sum flowers.
This dish really works, if you have never tried poaching a whole chicken then it is recommended. It really does make the chicken succulent , flavoursome and moist. The dipping oil adds the fragrance of the garlic and onion to the chicken and the seaweed salad almost adds a charred taste to the chicken! You can use other dipping sauces if you wish. Traditionally the Chinese would use spring onion and ginger or a soy a sauce combination.
The local vegetables in the stir fry do the work for you. Great flavour, crunch and a perfect accompaniment, the sauce brings them together and just adds a salty, seaweed umami flavoursome background. It actually taste more natural and lighter than soy a sauce, especially when compared to the soy sauce that we get here which is not great.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe and that you can take some inspiration from it.