After so many attempts, I have finally found the right way to cook Chinese steamed chicken and mushrooms. It’s not how much seasonings you add, it seems, but marinating the chicken long enough to absorb the flavors of the seasonings so that by the time it goes into the steamer, all it needs is to cook.
And it’s not that the seasonings are too many or too exotic. On the contrary, they are very basic. But, when thrown together, they create such deep and rich flavors that make the chicken so delectable.
Finally, don’t be tempted to marinate the mushrooms too. That would be a huge mistake because you don’t want them to be overwhelmed by too many flavors. Just add them to the chicken before steaming. They will soak up just enough of the flavors of both the marinade and the chicken and that is all they need.
Chinese Steamed Chicken and Mushrooms
- 3 chicken leg quarters (about 800 grams total weight), each cut into 3 portions
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 1/2 tablespoon grated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice wine
- 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
- 9 to 12 shiitake mushrooms (caps only)
- finely sliced scallions to garnish
Pat the chicken dry and place in a mixing bowl.
Add the ginger, shallots, garlic, pepper, sugar, salt, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame seed oil. Mix together, working the spices and seasonings into the chicken meat. Cover the bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least six hours.
Prepare the steamer.
Transfer the chicken pieces (leave behind whatever liquid there is) into a heatproof dish. Scatter the mushrooms caps around them. Steam over briskly boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the thickness of the meat of the chicken pieces). Whatever liquid the chicken meat soaked up plus its natural juices will form a shallow pool in the dish.
Garnish with scallions before serving.