Thursday, April 16, 2009

135. Chicken Long Rice (p. 247)

Mike Myers used to do a bit called "Coffee Talk" on Saturday Night Live. The character's name was Linda Richmond, and every now and then, when she got a little verklemmt, she'd pose an imponderable for the viewers to ponder while she tried to collect herself. A couple of examples are: "The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, Roman nor an empire. Discuss." and "The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut. Discuss." Well this dish could be another Linda Richmond imponderable: "Chicken Long Rice is neither long nor is it rice. Discuss."

This recipe is a little like the Congee I made a while ago in that both start by making a simple stock and end with shredding the chicken you used to make the stock and adding to the finished dish. First, I simmered some chicken, ginger and salt in some water for about an hour to make the stock. The Book calls for whole chicken thighs, which would have been nice if I could have found some because thigh meat is really flavorful and the bones and skin would have added some depth to the quick broth. Unfortunately, my local mega-mart was totally out of chicken thighs. It was the day before Easter, and the store was a mad house. The meat department had all sorts of stuff that they don't usually carry: marrow bones, beef kidney, fowl, cornish hens and more hams than you could shake a stick at. But no chicken thighs. So, I used split chicken breasts. The result was that the broth wasn't as flavorful as I think it was supposed to be. But the tradeoff was that there was a lot more meat in the finished dish than there would have been otherwise.

After the broth was done cooking, I removed the chicken and set it aside to cool a bit before shredding it. I strained the stock and put it back into the rinsed-out pot. I added some more water, one and a half Knorr chicken bullion cubes, chopped onions, and four dried porcini mushrooms. (The Book calls for dried shitakes, but the mega-mart only had porcinis, and you make do with what you've got.) After I brought this to a boil I added some bean thread noodles broken up into pieces. I cooked it for a bit and then let it sit for a bit longer. Before serving, I added some chopped scallions and the shredded chicken.

So, as you can see, there is no rice to be found in this recipe, and since the bean threads are broken into pieces, there's nothing "long" about it. But even if it isn't really "long rice," it is good. The flavor is excellent. The bullion cubes and dried mushrooms have a lot to do with that. The chopped onions (which are not sauteed before they go into the pot) and the scallions give the dish a nice, fresh oniony flavor. If you've never had bean threads before, they do take a bit of getting used to. They're sometimes called cellophane noodles because when they're cooked, they're clear. They also have a squishy texture and an innate "worminess." If you can get past that (I have), you'll like this.

Date Cooked: April 11, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B+

No comments: