Simple chicken and Shiitake mushroom braise
This is Pearl River delta homestyle cooking at its finest, all delicate flavours and Shaoxing wine-soused. It's cosy and warming on a cooler night, but light enough to enjoy on warmer days as well. The only challenge is deciding whether you want to make noodles or rice to enjoy with the broth!
35 g dried shiitake mushrooms
5 chicken legs, with thigh piece attached
3 slices of peeled ginger, about 1/2 cm thick
1 tbsp oil
30 ml or so of Shaoxing wine
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 small star anise
150g oyster mushrooms, roughly torn, or 200g of regular mushrooms, thickly sliced
Place the shiitake mushrooms into a small bowl and pour over freshly boiled water to totally submerge them. Cover and set aside.
Using a cleaver, cut the chicken legs into 3 or 4 pieces. Salt lightly.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat up the oil over a medium flame. Add the ginger and let it sizzle til it begins to colour.
Place a few pieces of the chicken skin-side down into the gingery oil and let colour for a minute or so, then flip them over and let them sear on the other side. Remove to a clean bowl and repeat with the rest of the chicken, working in small batches each time.
Once all of the chicken is lightly golden, pour the Shaoxing wine into the pan and let it bubble off slightly as you use a spatula to scrape the bottom. Add the chicken and any reserved juices back to the pan, pour over enough water to totally cover, then bring it all to a boil, skimming off any scum that arises.
Season with the salt and light soy sauce and add the Shiitake and their soaking liquid and the fresh mushrooms. Simmer over low heat til chicken is tender and the mushrooms have softened, about 20 minutes.
Either serve as it is, or strain off the broth and reduce by about a third before pouring back over the chicken and mushrooms.