Braised Chicken and Shiitake
with Calçots and Young Garlic.
So you’re probably wondering what are Calçots…well to the average person who hasn’t had the pleasure of being invited to a traditional Catalan barbecue (Calçotada), they look like spring onions but slightly larger and a much more subtle taste. Here in Catalunya the season for calçots is from late January through to the middle of April-I have been a little tardy in my efforts to post this recipe. I am lucky enough to have been to two Calçotadas in my short time thus far here in Barcelona, and the experience is nothing short of immense. The quantity of onions some people eat is quite impressive-I was sat next to a ravenous Italian at my last calçotada. I’m not sure if he had been enduring a self-imposed fasting period in the days leading up to the event or if hoovering up at a rate of five-a-minute was the done thing around here. Needless to say I was astounded and impressed in equal measures, so much so that I duly obliged and within 20 minutes surpassed his paltry 20 or so calçots. Satisfaction quickly transformed into regret as I saw the plates of lamb and sausages and blackened artichokes approaching.
How they are cooked, is traditionally over the initial flames of a barbecue, hot enough that it completely chars the outer layer of skin on the onions to leave a sweet and tender heart ready to be dipped into a secret family recipe of Romesco sauce. This gastronomic affair calls for inhibitions to be left aside and a giant bib tucked into your shirt…it gets messy.
So all that being said I decided to use this sweeter version of the spring onion and mix it with some Asian flavours and another seasonal produce, young Garlic. Any kind of Asian cooking grabs my interest due to how simple and quick a lot of the dishes can be and the result is almost always something worthy of a dinner party. Shiitake mushrooms are my favourite type and I especially like the dried type as soaking them beforehand can create a beautiful liquor to add to your dish during the cooking process. If you don’t have a wok don’t worry, this dish can easily be done in a normal frying pan with a lid or a casserole dish, this is one of the few Asian dishes that isn’t going to be stir-fried on stove top requiring insanely high cooking temperatures.
What you’ll need
8 Dried Shiitake mushooms
1 or 2 large chicken thighs de-boned and de-skinned (about 250g)
1 tbspn dark soy sauce
2 tbspns Shaoxing wine (chinese cooking wine)
1 tbspn brown sugar (palm preferably)
2 large calçots
2 young garlics
3cm piece of ginger
300ml of stock
salt 1 tspn sesame oil
2 tbspns peanut oil or sunflower oil
1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 20-30 minutes while prepping the other ingredients. Keep the water for cooking with and once fully soaked cut each mushroom into quarters.
2. Slice the ginger and garlic thinly and add to the preheated oil and fry for a few minutes over a medium heat until fragrant and soft. While frying, slice the chicken into small pieces. Take out the ginger and garlic and reserve. Fry the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Chop the white part of the Calçots into lengths of about 2 inches and add with the ginger and garlic to the chicken.
3. After another minute frying on a high heat you should notice small brown sticky deposits in the bottom of your pan, this is the moment to deglaze it with the cooking wine. Stir a little and add the mushrooms with their stock (about 300ml), the sugar and soy sauce. Taste and add salt as required.
4. Cover the pan with a lid and bring to the boil then reduce to a quick simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken has become tender, remember there should be enough broth to partly cover all the ingredients. Take off the lid to thicken the sauce if necessary and finely chop the green parts of the Calçots and Garlic. Serve with boiled white rice and drizzle the sesame oil over the top.