Stir-fry Chicken & Mushrooms

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My sister requested for a chicken & mushroom dish for lunch so we grabbed some ingredients from the nearest supermarket & I cooked it following my instincts. I chose to do it the Chinese style, taking into consideration how I remember it ala-Ate Vi (Ate Vi as in Vivian), our Chinese interpreter. She lived w/ us for about 3 months during the infamous SARS period for health measures as we all self-quarantined.As she said, the Chinese style (meaning northern Chinese, Beijing included, w/c is so much different from the Chinese food we are so familiar with back home or in any other southeast Asian country) is to cook w/ lots of cooking oil over high heat to enhance the flavor of the food. To avoid splatters of hot oil, add a dash of salt on the oil before frying anything. I tried it, especially when frying fish & it is really quite factual. But of course I didn’t follow the ‘lots of cooking oil’ tip :)

1/2 kilo boneless chicken meat
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp crushed ginger
1 onion
1 long cylinder of leak, cut about a inch long & sliced thinly (set aside about 2 tbsp of chopped leak)
a plateful of mushrooms, sliced thinly (separate the stalks from the head)
soy sauce
salt & pepper

Fry the garlic & ginger over high heat while stirring constantly. Once golden brown, add the chicken, leak, onion & the mushroom stalks, plus the salt, soy sauce & pepper to taste. Continue frying for about a minute or two. Then add a cup of water. Bring to boil. Add the mushroom head & boil for another couple of minutes. Pour the dish in a platter & sprinkle w/ the remaining leak.

When it comes to Chinese food I have always operated under the policy that the less known about the preparation the better. A wise diner who is invited to visit the kitchen replies by saying, as politely as possible, that he has a pressing engagement elsewhere. – Calvin Trillin (American Writer, b.1935)

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

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