Chinese New Year festivities begin on Feb. 9 this year and can last up to 15 days, offering plenty of opportunities to feast with family and friends on delicious traditional dishes. Rice cakes stir fried with pork is a popular choice, as is steamed fish with uncut noodles, which symbolize longevity. But rice-pot dishes are my favourite. I especially enjoy these comfort-food recipes because they are so easy to make and serve. This spicy, tangy chicken-and-mushroom combination with sweet undertones has become my go-to dish for all kinds of gatherings, as everyone loves it and the spicy citrus sauce offers a grown-up touch. It goes nicely with a snow pea salad or stir-fried baby bok choy with oyster sauce.
500 grams (1 pound) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, sliced in half
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cut in half
1 1/2 cups Thai jasmine rice, rinsed
2 cups chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon sriracha (Asian chili sauce)
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped mint or coriander
Spicy citrus sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Place chicken thighs in bowl. Combine shallots, ginger and garlic in separate bowl. Toss chicken with half of this mixture and all of the soy sauce and sugar.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over a medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, season with salt and pepper and add to pan. Fry 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden-brown but not cooked through. Remove from pan, add mushrooms and sauté 1 minute or until softened.
Season mushrooms with salt and pepper and set aside. To prepare the rice, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the remaining shallot mixture and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the rice, chicken broth (or water) and sriracha. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and place chicken pieces and mushrooms over the rice. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Scatter in peas and cook, covered, until both rice and chicken are cooked (about 7 to 10 minutes longer). Spoon into a serving bowl or serve from the pot. Garnish with green onions and mint or coriander. If there is a layer of rice that is slightly browned and sticking to the pot, this is considered a delicacy.
To make the spicy citrus sauce, combine the ginger, sriracha sauce, fish sauce and water. Stir in lemon juice, lime juice, brown sugar and fresh mint. Let sit for one hour before serving. The sauce should be served in a sauce boat so diners can drizzle it over their food as desired.