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Chicken with Cordyceps Militaris and Pak Choi

Happy Chinese New Year of the Monkey! Given there is nothing more in keeping with Chinese celebrations than eating I thought it apt to post a Chinese dish - something very typical of what my mum might make at home.

Chicken with Cordyceps Militaris and Pak Choi

Not wanting to impose impossible to source ingredients on anyone, this dish is perfectly yummy substituting the cordycep militaris (a fungus used widely in Chinese medicine and cooking) with any conventional mushroom eg shiitake. I know my mum would actually recommend adding in a small handful of cloud ear fungus to this dish but I think one obscure ingredient per recipe may be sufficient!

Quite literally, Cordycep Militaris 虫草花 (chóng cǎo huā), translates to mean 'worm grass flower', despite not being any of these things! It is a fungus that has comparable medicinal value and chemical makeup to the more prized (read, expensive) Cordyceps Sinensis.




It has purported anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing benefits, can help strengthen lungs and kidneys and I've even read it can help with insomnia. It is generally available in dried form, looking like a tangle of coarse orange hay and needs rehydrating before use like dried shiitake or porcini. It doesn#t have a strong taste so lends well to simple dishes without excessively overpowering flavours.

This dish is super quick to whip together and is very much cooked in the style of my mother - in the traditional Chinese way of prepping all the meat and veg first before hitting the pan for a a rapid fire stirfry, followed by a slurry (using arrowroot starch and water) to thicken the sauce. Serve on top of a pile of riced cauliflower (or any other veg that suits - i used a combination of swede, squash, broccol and leek seasoned with a pinch of turmeric) or a traditional and simple bowl of white rice.


Chicken with Cordyceps Militaris and Pak Choi
Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free, Nut-free

Serves 2



Ingredients: 
2 chicken breasts (approx 250g), trimmed and sliced into bitesize pieces
200g pak choi, washed, dried and sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
20g dried cordyceps militaris
1 tbsp arrowroot starch
2 tbsp coconut aminos
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
3/4 - 1 cup water
salt and ground white pepper to taste

Slurry: 1 tbsp arrowroot starch + 1 tbsp cold water

Cooked white rice or cauliflower rice equivalent to serve

Instructions:
1. Soak coryceps in hot water for 15mins and drain.
2. Marinade sliced chicken in a bowl with arrowroot starch, coconut aminos and sesame oil. Combine well and set aside for a few minutes while prepping veg.
3. Heat coconut oil or ghee over medium to high heat in a wok or similar heavy based pan.
4. Fry garlic for half a minute, stirring constantly until fragrant but not coloured.
5. Add chicken and cook for a few minutes until cooked through and no longer transparent, stirring constantly to avoid sticking to the base of the pan.
6. Add cordyceps and pak choi, stir through then add 3/4 cup water.
7. Bring to the boil, constantly keeping the contents of the pan moving around to ensure even cooking. Cook for a few minutes until pak choi has wilted slightly and sauce has reduced slightly.
8. Mix together the slurry quickly in a small bowl then pour into the pan stirring constantly to ensure the slurry is incorporated evenly into the sauce. It should thicken almost immediately upon hitting the bubbling pan. If sauce thickens too much add the extra water.
9. Stir through for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Serve over prepared rice.







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