Taiwanese Chicken with Bok Choy

San Bei Ji [Translation: Three Cup Chicken]

As Ling-wen Tsai, from Tianan, Taiwan, and her partner, Nathan Kolosko, taught Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine.

Note: This recipe requires you using a cleaver, or asking a butcher to cut your chicken in to bite-sized bone-in pieces for you. This is worth the effort - the bones give the sauce body and flavor that meat alone will never do. Plus, using a cleaver is great therapy. 
Makes: 4-5 Servings
Cooking Time: 1 night (marinating) + 1 hour active

Ingredients

  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1-2 lb bok choy
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce (for gluten free, use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp + 1 tsp Taiwanese rice cooking wine Mishiu (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 green onions
  • 4 inches fresh ginger root
  • 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (find this at an Asian market)
  • 2 bunches fresh Thai basil (find this at an Asian market)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper, tri-colored or black

Equipment

  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • 2 small prep dishes
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • measuring spoons (or you can eyeball it)
  • Cleaver
  • large cutting board
  • wok with lid or large deep saute pan with lid
  • mandolin
  • chef knife
  • small pot with lid
  • three serving bowls

Instructions

1. Cut bok choy stems into 1-inch segments and leaves into two-inch segments and store them in separate bowls. Peel and slice garlic and put it into a small dish. Pick basil leaves and put them into a bowl. 

2. Use a cleaver (or ask butcher) to cut chicken thighs into 1-inch bone-in, skin-on chunks. If you have never used a cleaver before, just really wack through the bones confidently perpendicular to the bone. Saying "high ya!" as you chop down helps you give a strong, clean, powerful whack. which is required for a clean cut. Use the pads of your fingers to feel the cut bone ends and remove any loose bone fragments. Marinate the chicken pieces ideally over night with 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, and 1 tsp rice cooking wine. 

3. Cook short grain rice with water according to package directions.

4. Scrape the skin off the ginger root with the tip of a spoon or the back of a knife. Slice ginger into paper thin rounds on a mandolin, or do your best to slice thin cross sections with a chef knife. Slice the green onions into thirds crosswise and then into quarters lengthwise so you have thin segments. Pick Thai basil leaves off the stems. 

5. Heat wok with 1 Tbsp sesame oil on high. When hot, add the marinated chicken. Cook without stirring until the moisture leaves and the chicken pieces begin to caramelize (turn deep golden brown) (about 4 minutes). Stir. Add green onions and ginger slices, and turn heat to low and cover.

6. After 3 or 4 minutes, stir in 2 tsp Taiwanese chili-bean paste (remove the beans), 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp cooking wine, and 1 tsp sesame oil. Let cook 3 more minutes or as long as needed until chicken is completely cooked. Mix in fresh Thai basil leaves. Transfer chicken and sauce into a serving bowl.

7. Rinse wok and heat on high seat. Saute garlic in sesame oil for 2 minutes. Add the bok choy stems and saute about 3 minutes before adding bok choy leaves. Cook for another two minutes. Add salt and pepper.

8. Serve chicken, rice, and sauteed bok choy family style in separate serving dishes at the table.