One fine day, around lunch time, about 2 years ago, I spotted the Poultry and Leek Soup recipe in the list at the Chef’s Guild and felt the sudden urge to have a bowl of something along those lines on this side of the screen. Pronto. Somewhat blindsided by this unexpected assault on my carefully laid-out lunch-plans, I dashed over to the store and grabbed everything I could possibly need to bring chicken and leeks together in a delicious dish.
Or so I thought. So when I found myself in my kitchen, scratching my head after discovering my usual batch of frozen homemade chicken stock had mysteriously disappeared out of my freezer, I decided – or rather, my growling tummy decided for me – to accept the challenge and work with what I had. What I came up with on a whim that day, and of course tweaked a little bit, has since made an appearance on our table on a regular basis and never failed to make hubby and me lean back and sigh with satisfaction. A wonderful example of a Tyrian dose of inspiration and my stubbornness – or unwillingness to take a second trip to the store – coming together as a perfect match sometimes, right there~!
So, this innocent-looking Tyrian recipe…
…sent me running off like a headless chicken and create this:
The Peanut Chicken & Leeks, formerly known as “Poultry and Leek Soup”
For 2 servings of this you’ll need…
300g Chicken Breast, halved lengthwise with a butterfly-cut and thinly sliced
opt: 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Five Spice Powder
3 Tbsp Cooking Sake
20g toasted Peanuts, lightly crushed
1 Leek, thinly sliced
20g freshly grated Ginger
2-4 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 mild Red Chilli, halved
1 Tsp hot Dried Chilli Flakes
1 Tbsp Palm Sugar
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 Tbsp Crunchy Peanutbutter
½ Lime, Juice and Zest
2 Tbsp Peanut Oil
opt: Fresh Coriander Leaves to garnish
1) Place the chicken strips in a mixing bowl and generously dust them with Five-Spice Powder. If you want them to turn really crispy, blend the Five-Spice Powder into 2 Tbsp of Cornstarch and dust the strips with this mix instead.
2) Carefully toss the chicken until the pieces are evenly coated with the spice. Think of it as some sort of dry rub, there’s no need to add any oil at this point.
3) Bring the Sake, sugar, lime juice and zest, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chilli flakes and peanutbutter together in a mixing bowl and stir until all of these ingredients are well combined and set the bowl aside for now.
4) Heat the oil in a large pan or, preferably, a wok, set on high heat.
5) Add and fry the chilli halves, cutting surfaces facing down, until they release their aroma into the oil, this takes about 2-3 minutes. Take them out of the pan and either discard them, in case you prefer a milder version of this, or finely chop them and add them back into the pan with the chicken later.
6) For now, replace the chilli pieces with the grated ginger and garlic. Cook them for around 1 min until their aromas start wafting up to you.
7) Add the chicken strips and stir-fry them for 3-4 mins until they start to turn a golden brown.
8) Add the thinly sliced leeks, give the pan a hearty flip to incorporate them into the mix. Leave them to cook for about 2-3 mins until they’re nicely softened.
9) Fold in the sauce you’ve prepped earlier, and let it simmer away until the alcohol has cooked off entirely. This takes about 3-4 mins.
10) Have a taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I haven’t mentioned salt until now since the ingredients are rather salty on their own. If you’re missing a bit more of a salty tang at this point though, this is the time to add it. Make sure to give it a good stir and some time to dissolve in the sauce before adding more.
11) Divide the contents of the pan onto two plates and scatter the portions with the roasted and crushed peanuts. I usually serve this with rice or rice noodles… or skip the starchy sides and just dig in…
12) Dot the servings with the coriander leaves and serve.