This British Chinese takeaway inspired Chicken Curry has taken so many tries to get it like I wanted.
Welcome to attempt number five or six (I lost count) and the version I’ll be keeping in my recipe book. I know it’s not a pretty looking thing, but it works for me.
Out of the blue one night, I really fancied a takeaway style Chinese Curry. What I wanted was a meal that was quick to put together and reminded me of a dish I’d get at my local takeaway. Who’d have thought it could be so hard!
I began by doing a bit of online reading, settling upon this Authentic Chinese Curry recipe from Spice Cauldron. Later I found another recipe based on it as a Jamie Oliver Member Submitted recipe by Allora Andiamo. Whilst I liked the look of both, there were elements in each that just didn’t work for me.
I don’t want to spend time making a roux nor do I want to be making a sauce separately, so that meant the Spice Cauldron recipe didn’t have the method I’d want to use. Of the second recipe, the spicing just didn’t sound like it’d be what I was looking for. That being said, I’ve often used the ‘add flour to the pan, then add liquid’ method to create sauces before. So with some combination of the two, I gave it a go.
The flavour wasn’t right, the sauce was too thin and my onions had lost all their crunch from being simmered for so long. Nope. I don’t like cooking things that don’t make me happy to eat them – I’m weird that way. I wasn’t prepared to be beaten though.
After another failed-but-edible attempt with less liquid and a different combination of flavourings, I was annoyed by it. It’s not often I find a dish that just isn’t coming together properly after a few attempts… So I changed my approach. The next version was modelled on the method used in other Chinese dishes I make; cornflour should be the thickening agent. Ahah! Now I was on to something.
The sauce was almost right now but the texture of the chicken wasn’t quite what I’d wanted. I’d tried the meat thinly cut and simmered gently in sauce, nope. Stir-fried? Still no. I decided to go with the cornflour, soy sauce and shaoxing rice wine marinade that makes chicken beautifully silken and soft. And yes! Finally.
So it isn’t exactly what you’d get at your local British Chinese takeaway. Instead it’s a recipe inspired by those dishes, with soft chicken, crunchy onions and a spicy five spice accented curry sauce.
I’ve listed ‘Curry Powder’ below, but this from Schwartz is the one I used. Use whatever you can source and just adjust the additional chilli powder accordingly. I also use ready prepared minced ginger and garlic from a jar, as I like the convenience. Feel free to substitute it for fresh if you’d prefer.
Soft chicken, crunchy onions and a five spice laden sauce. Perfect served with rice.
- 1 tbsp Cornflour
- 1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
- 250-300 g Chicken Breast, Sliced Thinly
- 1 tbsp Cornflour
- 1/2 tbsp Mild Curry Powder
- 1 tsp Five Spice Powder
- 1/4 tsp Chilli Powder (Optional, To Taste)
- 1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
- 300 ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 1 tbsp Sunflower or Vegetable Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, Skin Removed, Sliced into Chunky Pieces
- 1 tsp Minced Ginger
- 1 tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 handful Frozen Garden Peas
Tip the cornflour into a bowl. Add the Shaoxing and Soy. Blend thoroughly and add the chicken. Allow to sit for at least half an hour at room temperature, or longer in the fridge if preparing in advance.
Combine all the powders for the sauce in a bowl. Slowly pour in 250ml of stock, stirring throughout, until all the powders and cornflour are well blended and there are no lumps. Add the soy sauce and put the assembled sauce mix to one side. Reserve 50ml of stock for later.
When ready to cook, place a wok or large, high sided stir-fry pan on the hob. Turn the temperature to it's highest (hottest) setting and allow the pan to fully come to temperature. Once it starts to smoke, it's ready.
Tip in the tablespoon of oil, followed by the marinated chicken. Discard any additional liquid marinade in the base of the dish. Stir-fry the chicken for a few minutes, until it's turning golden brown and is half cooked.
Add the chunky onion pieces and continue to cook. Once the chicken is fully cooked through and the onions have lost their rawness and started to soften, add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a further minute.
Add the frozen peas to the pan and stir-fry for thirty seconds, until they have defrosted. Add the sauce mix to the pan, mix thoroughly and allow to simmer for three minutes.
By this point the sauce will have thickened and everything will be piping hot. Use the reserved 50ml of stock to adjust the sauce thickness as desired. Serve immediately with rice.