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Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus: A Healthy and Flavorful Chinese Delight

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Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus is a classic Chinese dish that combines tender chicken pieces with nutritious black fungus (also known as wood ear mushrooms) in a simple yet flavorful sauce. This dish is not only delicious but also incredibly healthy, making it a perfect addition to any meal. The steaming method preserves the natural flavors and nutrients of the ingredients, while the black fungus adds a unique texture and a host of health benefits.

Culinary Heritage and Significance

Chinese cuisine often emphasizes the balance of flavors and textures, as well as the health benefits of the ingredients. Steaming is a popular cooking method in Chinese cuisine because it retains the natural taste and nutrients of the food. Black fungus, known for its crunchy texture and subtle earthy flavor, is widely used in Chinese cooking for its health properties. It is believed to promote circulation, reduce cholesterol, and improve skin health. Combining it with chicken in a steamed dish creates a harmonious blend of flavors and a nutritious meal.

Ingredients

To prepare Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus, gather the following ingredients:

For the Chicken:

  • Chicken Thighs or Breasts: 1 lb, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Black Fungus (Wood Ear Mushrooms): 1 oz (dried), rehydrated and sliced
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced
  • Ginger: 1-inch piece, julienned
  • Scallions: 2, finely chopped (white and green parts separated)
  • Soy Sauce: 2 tbsp
  • Oyster Sauce: 1 tbsp
  • Shaoxing Wine: 1 tbsp (or dry sherry)
  • Sesame Oil: 1 tsp
  • Sugar: 1 tsp
  • White Pepper: 1/2 tsp
  • Cornstarch: 1 tbsp
  • Water: 1/4 cup

Preparation and Cooking Instructions

  1. Rehydrate the Black Fungus:
    • Place the dried black fungus in a bowl of warm water. Let it soak for about 20-30 minutes until it is fully rehydrated and softened.
    • Drain the black fungus, rinse it under cold water, and slice it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  2. Marinate the Chicken:
    • In a large bowl, combine the chicken pieces, minced garlic, julienned ginger, and the white parts of the scallions.
    • Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar, white pepper, and cornstarch to the bowl. Mix well to coat the chicken evenly.
    • Let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
  3. Prepare the Steaming Setup:
    • Fill a large pot or wok with water and bring it to a boil.
    • Place a steaming rack or trivet inside the pot, ensuring the water level is below the rack.
    • Line a heatproof plate or shallow dish with the marinated chicken and black fungus. Add 1/4 cup of water to the plate to create some steaming liquid.
  4. Steam the Chicken:
    • Place the plate of chicken and black fungus on the steaming rack. Cover the pot or wok with a tight-fitting lid.
    • Steam the chicken over medium-high heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.
  5. Garnish and Serve:
    • Carefully remove the plate from the steamer. Garnish the steamed chicken with the green parts of the scallions.
    • Serve the Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus hot, accompanied by steamed rice or your favorite side dishes.

Tips for Perfect Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus

  • Choosing the Chicken: Chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness and tenderness, but chicken breasts can also be used for a leaner option.
  • Rehydrating Black Fungus: Make sure the black fungus is fully rehydrated and softened before adding it to the dish. This ensures a pleasant texture and even cooking.
  • Marinating Time: Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavors. For a more intense flavor, you can marinate it for up to an hour in the refrigerator.
  • Steaming Setup: Ensure the water level in the steaming pot does not touch the plate. This prevents the dish from becoming watery and losing its concentrated flavors.

Serving Suggestions

Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus pairs well with:

  • Steamed Rice: The perfect accompaniment to soak up the flavorful sauce.
  • Vegetable Side Dishes: Balance the meal with a simple stir-fried or steamed green vegetable like bok choy, Chinese broccoli, or snow peas.
  • Soup: Start the meal with a light Chinese soup like Hot and Sour Soup or Egg Drop Soup to complete the dining experience.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Chicken: A great source of lean protein, essential for muscle growth and repair.
  • Black Fungus: Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, black fungus is known for its health benefits, including improving circulation, reducing cholesterol levels, and boosting the immune system.
  • Garlic and Ginger: Both ingredients have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, adding not only flavor but also health benefits to the dish.

Conclusion

Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus is a delightful dish that brings together the best of Chinese cuisine: simple preparation, nutritious ingredients, and a perfect balance of flavors. The tender chicken and crunchy black fungus, infused with aromatic garlic and ginger, create a dish that is both comforting and invigorating. By following this recipe, you can easily recreate this classic Chinese dish at home, impressing your family and friends with a meal that is rich in flavor and tradition. Enjoy the wholesome and delicious experience of Steamed Chicken with Black Fungus, and savor the essence of Chinese culinary heritage with every bite.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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