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Potato, Carrot & Black Cloud-Ear Fungus Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

Serve as part of a banquet for 4

For me, chicken drumsticks are total comfort food – so affordable and accessible, especially now that free-range chicken is more widely available. Tossing the drumsticks in flour gives them a lovely rich coating, and also thickens the sauce. Black bean and chilli sauce is an all-time favourite (if you’re cooking for children, you can easily omit the chilli) and goes beautifully  with a range of ingredients. This dish is a great meal-in-one, served with steamed rice and Chinese  greens.

3 tablespoons peanut oil
8 free-range chicken drumsticks
75 g (1/2 cup) plain flour
250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock or water
1/2 red capsicum (pepper), seeds removed, finely sliced
1 teaspoon malt vinegar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 large red chillies, halved and seeds removed
2 large green chillies, halved and seeds removed
1 small red onion, finely sliced
5 cm × 2 cm knob (20 g) ginger, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large red chilli, finely sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons salted black beans
80 ml (1/3 cup) shao hsing wine or dry sherry

Heat half of the peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer  slightly. Toss drumsticks in flour to coat, shaking  off any excess. Add half the drumsticks to the hot oil and sear for 1 minute each side. Remove drumsticks and drain on kitchen paper. Discard oil and wipe wok clean. Repeat with remaining oil and drumsticks, then wipe wok clean again.

To make the black bean and chilli sauce, combine soy sauce, sugar, vinegar  and sesame oil in a small bowl and set aside. Heat peanut oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer  slightly. Add halved chillies and cook for 30 seconds  each side to blister and slightly blacken. Remove with tongs and drain on kitchen paper. Reserve oil in wok. Add onion, ginger, garlic, sliced chilli and black beans to hot oil in wok
and stir-fry for 2 minutes,  stirring regularly  to make sure the black beans don’t burn otherwise  they will be bitter. Add wine or sherry and cook for 1 minute. Add soy sauce mixture to wok and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Return drumsticks to wok and toss to coat in sauce for 1 minute. Add stock or water, cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Braise the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove from the heat, then add capsicum and vinegar  to wok and toss to combine. Serve immediately, garnished with blistered chillies.