This was another meal who’s starting point was a case of “tail wags dog“, and one that was put together by the “cooking by the seat of your pants” method.
The impetus for this dish was in fact the side. For about a week or so now, we’d been looking for an excuse to use some seaweed “noodles” we’d bought.
They were produced by Spanish company Algamar – you can read about them here.
An obvious starting point for a main course to go with seaweed noodles seemed to be something Chinese.
I also had leftover mushrooms to use up, and what goes better with mushrooms than chicken? Nothing, in our rather humble opinion. We’re also of the view that chicken thigh meat works jolly well in Chinese style casseroles, thanks to the very nice folks at Kin Long, and their scrumptious Three Cups Chicken.
Quick! To the supermarket! There’s not a second to lose!
Results and Notes
With hindsight, I really should have cut the chicken thighs up into bite sized pieces after they’d been fried off and before they went into the casserole, to make them chopstick friendly.
The sea spaghetti noodles were superb, and really came into their own served in a small bowl with a little of the broth from the casserole. You can read my review of them by clicking here.
Please do make the effort to track down Sichuan pepper corns and Tianjin preserved vegetable. They really do make a huge difference to the finished dish. Any decent Chinese or pan-Asian grocer / supermarket should stock them. At a push, buy pre-ground Sichuan pepper powder, if that’s all you can get hold of.
Chinese Chicken and Mushroom Casserole
- 1kg boned skinless chicken thighs
- 350g mushrooms, wiped, stalks trimmed, and halved
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 stick of celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tbsp Tianjin preserved vegetable
- 1 tsp 5 spice powder
- coconut oil
- Saké – see Notes
- fish sauce – see Notes
- black pepper
- almond flour
- sesame seed oil
- hot chilli flakes
- Heat a dry, non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the Sichuan peppercorns, and dry fry until they start to release steam. Remove from the pan. Lightly crush using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
- Open up and flatten out the chicken thighs. Dredge them in almond flour. Heat up 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs in batches, and fry on both sides until golden. If needs be, clean and dry the pan between batches. When all the chicken is fried, set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a large non-stick pan. Add the ginger, garlic, and chillies. Stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan. Stir fry for about 3 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, and continue to stir fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the 5 spice powder, the Tianjin preserved vegetable, and the Sichuan peppercorns, and stir well. Add 2 tbsp of Saké, and 4 tbsp of fish sauce. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the fried chicken thighs to the pan, and just enough water to cover. Stir well, bring up to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat. Serve, dressed with a drizzle of sesame seed oil, and garnished with a sprinkling of hot chilli flakes.
- Depending on your own personal Paleo preferences, you may not want to use the Saké. If you don’t, simply omit it.
- To make the dish truly Paleo, get hold of fish sauce that contains fish, water, and salt. You’re probably best looking in an Asian store for genuine Thai fish sauce. I currently use Thanh Ha Phu Quoc.