I was wondering around Lion Market yesterday, thinking about what I would make for dinner—this is actually my normal state of being. I was looking at the Lee Kum Kee sauces for ones I had not tried yet. I settled on plum sauce.
I had used plum sauce for dipping in Chinese restaurants, but I had never cooked with it. Looking on-line, I found many recipes for making it, but I did not like any of the recipes that actually cooked with it. As usual, I took a bit of this and a bit of that and came up with something tasty.
Some of the recipes I had glanced at had crisp-fried their chicken and this seemed like a good start. Plum sauce is a very sweet sauce, so—although I generally put lots of garlic in most of my dishes—I chose to leave it out this time. I had some pak choi, but I like to have more than a single vegetables in my stir-fries, so I added some Chinese chive stem—AKA flowering chive or garlic chive scapes.
Note: Chinese chive stems are about a foot long and dark green, with the beginnings of a flower bud at the top. You can identify it from the similar round garlic stem, by looking at the cut end—its cross section is diamond shaped. While the bud is edible, I tend to cut it off because it is a bit tough.
Karl’s Chicken in Plum Sauce
1 lb. Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
2 Tbs. peanut oil
½ medium yellow onion
1 lb. pak choi
1 lb. Chinese chive stem
2 Tbs. fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
¼ cup plum sauce
1. Remove any excess fat and cut the thighs into bit-sixed pieces.
2. Mix the chicken in a bowl with the grated ginger, soy sauce, shaoxing, and bean paste.
3. Stir in the cornstarch and let the chicken marinate—covered in the refrigerator—for 20-30 minutes.
4. While the chicken is marinating, slice the onions pole to pole into moon shapes.
5. Cut the green leaves from the pak choi and cut the stems, length wise, into quarters—keep the greens and white parts separate.
Tip: Some people might prefer to shred the leaves finely and to separate the leaf stalks from the stems. I left the leaves whole—they were not very large.
6. Cut the chive stem into 1½ inch pieces.
7. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok and fry half of the chicken until crisp on both sides.
8. Transfer the cooked chicken to a lipped tray and place it in an oven on warm.
9. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the second half of the chicken.
10. When done, transfer the chicken to the oven.
11. Add the onion to the pan and stir-fry until they are picking up some color.
Tip: There should be enough oil left in the pan, but if necessary add more.
12. Add the chive stem and the white parts of the pak choi to the onions.
13. Continue stir-frying until the pak choi has become mostly translucent.
14. Return the chicken to the pan and add the green leaves and match stick ginger.
15. When the green have wilted, add the plum sauce and toss to coat.
16. Continue cooking for 1-2 more minutes and serve warm over rice.
Note: To please Jan I served steamed Jasmine brown rice.