The prospect of weaving up and down aisles filled with stalls exhibiting new or unique produce might not excite the mass population, but boy does it tickle my fancy. I love, I mean love, going to the supermarket or farmer’s market, particularly specialty or overseas ones with all those shiny new food products to discover! Last month I popped along to the London Produce Show and got the same giddy-glutton feeling as I wandered around the Great Hall in Grosvenor House, checking out the range of fresh produce on show from around the world.
Then when one had enough of oggling the fresh-food-porn, there were seminars on food trends, marketing and emerging markets or chef’s demonstrations to pass your time. I wish I could have spent more time there but alas, that real life job got in the way, and the main event I was here for was the Media Masterclass featuring Jeremy Pang from the School of Wok and the Nikkei Boys, Jordan Sclare and Michael Paul from Chotto Matte. With my glass of champagne in hand, I sat back and watched Jeremy tell us the difference between a bok choy and choy sum, and the Nikkei Boys explain how to prepare their beef tataki, then sampled the fruits of their labour!
I was already going to chalk this down as an afternoon well spent but then I opened the goody bag… filled with such a delights as Pro Agro extra virgin olive oil, an unmissable banana-shaped usb stick from Banabay, fresh asparagus from Mudwalls, and a copy of Jeremy’s brand spanking new book, Chinese Unchopped. No need to note down the recipe for those prawn lettuce cups after all!
Chinese Unchopped is a great cookbook; I’m not an avid cookbook collector so I don’t bestow this honour lightly. My usual approach to cookbooks is to flip through the photos for inspiration then continue to wing it, but recently I’ve found a couple I really like; Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes is one of them, this is the other.
Not just a collection of ‘how to cook whatever’, I like that Jeremy explains key techniques and ingredients, and includes ‘swapsies’ so you know what use when your local Sainbury’s has run out of sichuan peppercorns. In this instance, mine hadn’t so I decided to take Jeremy’s ‘wok clock’ technique for a spin and try the signature Sichuan chicken recipe!
School of Wok’s Stir Fried Sichuan Chicken
- 200g boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 125g shitake mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 chilli, finely chopped
- 1 spring onion, sliced
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
- 2 tablespoons crushed chilli flakes
- 100g cashew nuts
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
- 1 teaspoon chilli bean paste
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
1. In a bowl, combine the chicken strips with the marinade ingredients until evenly coated and set aside while you prepare all the other ingredients.
2. In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients.
3. Build your ‘wok clock’ starting with the onions, red pepper, chicken, crushed peppercorns, chilli flakes, garlic, chilli, sauce bowl, mushrooms, cashew nuts, spring onion, extra chillies. This is the order in which you will cook the ingredients, starting from 12 o’clock!
4. Heat the oil in a wok or frypan until smoking hot, then add onions and red pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly softened.
5. Push the vegetables to one side and add the chicken to the wok or frypan and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
6. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the crushed peppercorns, garlic, chilli, and sauce, stir-fry for around 4-5 minutes until the sauce has thickened and is sticking to the chicken. Add the cashew nuts and any extra chilli, and toss well to combine all the ingredients and cook for a further minute.
7. Transfer to a large plate and garnish with the spring onions, then serve with fluffy white rice and enjoy!
I was a guest of the London Produce Show but as always, all opinions are mine, mine and mine!