Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chasing Windmills (Star Anise-Ginger Chicken)

Earlier this year we took our semi-regular trip to Taiwan to visit my wife's extended family.  I always look forward to this trip, not for the sights and shopping but for the food, naturally.  Over the years, I have become accustomed to the flavor that can be found here.  Overall it is Chinese food that is simple, slightly spicy, and always packed with flavor.  However on this last trip, I was blind-sided by what I can only attest to being the best chicken dish I have ever had.

Best chicken dish ever

Known to us non-Chinese speaking people as 3 Cup Chicken, it's essentially 3 cups of chicken, 3 cups or garlic, 3 cups of ginger cooked in a sort of soy-flavored stew and served over rice.  What made this dish at this specific restaurant particularly amazing is that they finish the dish in a stone bowl bake it so that most of the liquid has been reduced and you are left with a sticky glaze and lots of chicken, garlic, and ginger (all equally edible due to the long cooking time). 

Having declared it the best chicken dish I have ever had, I have been chasing this flavor since I returned to Hawaii and have been failing miserably in my efforts to recreate this dish.

The other day, I ran across this recipe for Star Anise-Ginger Chicken which by it's description sounded eerily like that dish I had in Taiwan.  Since seeing this over the weekend I took the opportunity to make it tonight for dinner.

My Western version

Overall, the taste was pretty close which I think was due to the addition of honey, which all 3-Cup Chicken recipes I've found online do not utilize.  As for the reduction, while this recipe uses the liquid reduction as a sauce, I decided to toss it with my chicken and use it as a glaze, to see if I could replicate that elusive flavor.

Having come this close, I will probably stick with this recipe and continue to tweak it.  I do think, however, that until I buy some stone bowl to bake in the oven, I will probably still be more far then near.

Thanks for reading!

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