I cannot remember a single childhood meal that didn’t revolve around sharing with my family – not just the food that Mum and Dad had prepared and placed at the centre of the table but also the stories from our day, gossip about the family and, of course, the love we had for one another.
Sharing and giving is truly what Chinese food is about and this recipe demonstrates that perfectly. An enormous plate of stir-fried garlicky chicken, steaming hot and full of simple flavours, waiting to be wrapped adoringly into crispy lettuce leaves and then either passed to one another or unashamedly devoured until the entire plateful has vanished. Forget diamonds and fast cars, this is what life is about – giving, sharing and enjoying with the ones we care about most.
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
500g chicken breast or boneless thigh meat, minced or finely chopped
¼ of a red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
6 water chestnuts, drained and chopped
100g tinned bamboo shoots, drained and chopped
8 tinned straw mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Salt and ground white pepper
1 tablespoon cashew nuts, finely chopped
2–3 baby gem lettuces, leaves separated
2 tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced
½ a cucumber, finely diced
Sesame oil, to taste
PREPARATION TIME 10 MINUTES. COOKING TIME 10 MINUTES.
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over a medium heat. Once hot, add the ginger and garlic and fry until softened. Add the chicken and stir-fry over a medium heat until browned slightly and cooked through. Remove the chicken and set to one side.
2. Clean out the wok, then place back on the heat, adding the rest of the oil. Add the red pepper, cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and straw mushrooms, and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the chicken back into the wok.
3. Add the Shaoxing rice wine, soy sauce, fish sauce and a little salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for a minute or two until the chicken has absorbed the flavours of the sauce and the sauce
has reduced a little. Add the cashew nuts and mix well.
4. To serve, fill the lettuce leaves with a little of the chicken mixture and place them on a serving plate. Scatter over the diced tomato and cucumber and add a few drops of sesame oil. Serve immediately.
> Find out all about the show on my Channel 4 website
> Get your hands on all the recipes: Buy ‘Gok Cooks Chinese’