This past winter my in-laws came to visit from Chicago. As a teacher, my vacation days are completely dictated by the school year calendar. This meant I was working during their stay with us. It was sad to head off to work in the morning and know that they (and my niece) were just going to be hanging around or shopping while they waited for us to get home from work.
One night I worked a little later than I had hoped. As I entered the door of our home about six o’clock, the best aromas of Chinese cooking wafted in my direction. I didn’t even stop to put down my bags or take off my coat/shoes. I just walked in to the kitchen to stare in amazement at the delicious dish my father-in-law was preparing. It was all so simple, as most Chinese homestyle cooking is, but so incredibly perfect.
It was a cool night. There was a bit of a chill in the air accompanying the Pacific-Northwest rainy weather. No matter how long we live here, some nights in the winter it all just gets to be too much. This dish, however, was perfect. It soothed the soul, warmed the body, and was filled with enough love to carry me through the months we have when we don’t get to see our family.
Last night I was in the mood for all of the above. I have a cold coming on. I’m sure my yelling/talking with kids over the roar of the crowd AND the pep band at the football game the other night did NOT help much. (But it was FUN!) We had also spent the day running errands (joy-oh-joy) and getting things set up for my love’s office space. We were also going to be heading over to my sister’s house for a surprise drop-in visit. Dinner was in order because I was hungry. And cold. And stressing out about life. LOL.
So, this was the perfect dinner to make.
It’s a one pot dish. Simple flavors, Easy to cook, easy to clean, and GREAT for lunch (or your’s nephews’ dinner) the next night. I hope you like it and feel a bit of our family love settling in to your house and kitchen as the great aromas come out. My father-in-law would be proud.
Chinese Home-style Chicken and Rice
2 cups of rice, Chinese/Japanese short grain
water (enough to cover the rice and your hand when you lay your hand on top of the rice in the pot – about 4 cups)
4 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
4 GF Chinese sausages or other dried sausage (if you cannot find a dried GF sausage, use a precooked mild Italian)
3/4 cups dried shitake mushrooms
1/3+ cup of gluten-free soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons sweet bell pepper flakes or red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sake or rice wine or mirin
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 Tablespoons shallots (optional)
- Rehydrate shitake mushrooms in very hot water for a minimum of 20 minutes. You can put the mushrooms into hot water, start the marinade and then wait only 5-10 minutes before adding to chicken mix. (Just in time for the rice to be at the right stage too!)
- Prepare marinade. Mix together soy sauce, cornstarch, red pepper flakes, sake, garlic ginger, and optional shallots in a medium bowl. Cut chicken and dried sausages into bite-sized pieces.
- Add chicken to marinade. Allow to sit until rice is tender but not completely done (about 8-9 minutes of simmering time total
- Wash your rice thoroughly with cold water until the water runs clear (3 – 4times).
- Place rice in a large stock pot (I used a 5 quart LeCrueset). Cover rice with enough water that when you place your hand on top of the water/rice, the water will rise to just touch the knuckle on your hand of your middle finger. (Not the joints on your finger, but the knuckle/bump on your hand. This is the traditional way to make rice and is sometimes called the “Mount Fuji Method” of rice making. Once you master this, you will never measure water for rice again! See this photo for a better idea or this post about making sticky rice.)
- Place the rice over a high flame and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the flame to lower to a low simmer.
- After about 10 minutes, lift the lid. Most of the water will be absorbed and the rice will be tender but not completely cooked. At this point, add the mushrooms to the sausage/chicken mixture. Toss to mix well. Then pour it all over the top of the rice. Do not mix it in. If necessary, add an additional 1/2 cup of water to the rice to make sure it does not burn. Recover.
- Simmer/steam for an additional 20 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked.
- Stir together all ingredients in the pot. Taste-test. Add more soy sauce or salt/pepper to your liking. The rice will become somewhat brown in color from the soy sauce but the flavor is gently imparted.
- Remove from heat and serve with love.
Yes, the love makes a difference. That’s what heals and keeps you whole!
With love from our house to yours!