Anytime you pass by an authentic Chinese restaurant, you will see a bunch of hanging meats that range from chicken to pork to squid and if you're up early enough, you can see them hung while they are still hot and fogging up the window, glistening with it's delicious juices. Growing up, seeing cooked meat hanging in the window was unordinary for many people, almost off putting but for me it made my mouth water instantly. I grew up eating crispy roast pork, BBQ pork, soy sauce chicken, and my favorite of all time - scallion chicken.
It's the only chicken that is wrapped in paper to seal in the scallions and it is the lightest color out of all of them. The chicken is so juicy and tasty from being boiled in seasoned water for about 1 hour, cut and then served with a small cup of ginger scallion sauce. To be honest, that small cup was not enough for one person so my mom would always make more because it's arguably the most important component of ginger chicken. It's oily, it's salty, and it's super fragrant. What's not to love?
When we didn't have time to go all the way to Brooklyn to pick up a chicken my mom would boil chicken breasts and slice it up. It was less than a quarter of the time to make but just as delicious. She would chop up a bunch of ginger and scallion to make the very addictive sauce while a fresh pot of white rice would cook. Dinner would be done in less than 25 minutes and our craving for Chinese chicken would be satisfied until the weekend. This dish is one of the dishes that will forever remind me of my mom and I'm happy to share it with you.
My Mom's Quick Steamed Chicken Ginger Rice
1 pound or two chicken breasts
1 small knob of ginger, about the size of a quarter
2 stalk of scallions, greens only
2 pieces of ginger, about 4 inches long
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/3 cup of neutral oil (canola works best)
2 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
2 cups of rice
2 cups water
Start by washing and peeling your ginger. Next, slice the ginger into very thinly rounds. Julienne them into matchsticks and then mince them finely. Gather it all into your hands and squeeze out the excess liquid. Place into a heat proof bowl.
Cut the scallion into the same size as your ginger. Add it to the bowl along with salt and sesame oil. Mix until well combined.
Pour in 1/3 cup of numeral oil into a small pot and bring to 350F. Shut the flame off and add in the ginger mixture to the pot. Be careful it will bubble. Let it cool while you work on the chicken.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Drop in the scallion ends and small knob of ginger. Next, slowly drop in the chicken breasts and set a timer for 10 minutes. Do not cover.
While the chicken is cooking, rinse your rice until the water tuns clear. Place into a pot or rice cooker along with 2 cups of water. If you are using a rice cook, just press start. If you are using a pot, bring it to a boil. Once the rice is boiling, lower the heat to low and steam for 15 minutes. Fluff when done.
Once the chicken is done, pull it out of the water and let it cool down for 5 minutes. Brush on some sesame oil and cut into slices.
Finally, slice up the cucumbers. Serve the warm chicken with white rice, sliced cucumbers, ginger scallion sauce, and soy sauce on the side.
You can save the water that you boiled the chicken breasts in for another batch of rice. I always save it so the next time I want to make this recipe or really anything that requires water or stock I have it on hand.
If you are lazy and don't want to cook your oil, you can totally use plain canola oil. No heating required, just let it sit for 15 minutes to let the flavors infuse in the oil. It wouldn't be as addictive as if you were to heat up the oil and fry the ginger to make it fragrant but it'll still be great. I actually used to make it this way until I realized that spending the time to heat the oil is worth it. But in a pinch, plain unheated oil will get the job done.
I don't suggest using thighs for this dish as it can be too fatty. You can use wings but really chicken breast is the best. Its juicy without being to fat and it's easy to cut and eat since it has no bones.