The following dish was inspired by a recipe I came across in one of my Chinese cookbooks in which slices of chicken breast are stir-fried with a variety of watercress in a light sauce of thickened chicken stock. As part of my wife’s summer green-house project, she interspersed some of her primary crops with fast-growing radishes (both white and red), and, when she needed to thin some of these out, I decided to use the greens to do a similar, but somewhat modified, version of the aforementioned original…
Here are the white radishes that she pulled for me. As you can see, the actual radishes are only slightly developed, but it was necessary to thin things out a bit and so, at least, we have some nice greens to work with here.
- 1 large Chicken breast;
- 1 bunch of Radish Greens (or any other greens you like);
- 2 – 3 tablespoons of Salt;
- 2 cloves of Garlic; chopped;
- ¼ cup Dry White Wine;
- ¾ tsp. Cornstarch;
- 1 tsp. light Soy sauce;
For this dish, I am replacing the chicken stock with wine. You can use rice wine, if you like, but a nice European dry white wine will work nicely too.
In contrast to the original recipe, which simply chopped fresh watercress, I am going to salt my radish greens and let them sit for two days so that they ferment slightly and produce a nice lactic acid tang. All you need do here is toss the greens with the salt and cover them in a suitable container. Don’t worry about the amount of salt used here; almost all of it will be washed away later.
Here are the greens after sitting on the counter top for 48 hours. They are considerable wilted and are just beginning to take on a lightly sour aroma.
Once the greens are sufficiently pickled, pour away any liquid thrown off by the process and rinse them well with cold water to remove the salt. Next, trim away the thick roots and chop the remaining leaves moderately finely.
To prepare the chicken, you need to make three or four horizontal slices through the breast (this is easier if you partially freeze it first) and then cut the slices into bite size pieces. For this dish, I am not using the whole breast as I trimmed the thinnest portions of the edges away and used this meat for fried rice in a different meal.
When you are ready to cook, mix the cornstarch together with enough water to make a paste and then stir in the wine and the soy sauce. Set this aside for now. Now, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in your wok over moderate heat and quickly sauté the chicken pieces until they have just turned opaque but are still a little pink in the center Remove to a bowl for the moment.
Replenish the oil if necessary and then briefly fry the garlic until it gives off its aroma. Add the greens and toss for a few minutes to brighten and drive of a little more water.
Finally add back the chicken and then follow this with the sauce mixture, stirring until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately
Well, this wasn’t bad on the whole… just not terribly exciting. The flavor was actually pretty decent, and the radish greens pleasantly fresh, but this is really a dish that needed an accompaniment. We ate it with plain rice and it really should be served as part of a larger meal; ideally with a spicy dish or two alongside. I would certainly make it again, though…