In How to Cook and Eat in Chinese by Buwei Yang Chao, there’s a simple recipe called just Garlic Beef (Dr. Chao was not one for fancy names on her dishes) that’s become one of my family’s favorite foods. I make it when I have a lot of fairly tender beef on hand and enough time to cut it into 3/16 inch slices. Sadly, I had neither this week. But I did have three kilos of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breast (rare special). The original recipe mentioned that pork can be used instead of beef, so maybe chicken wasn’t too much of a stretch? Though I still wouldn’t have time to slice it so thin. So — I’d cut the chicken into just a few pieces and let it marinate longer than I would’ve with thin slices. (Which, by the way, is less than an hour.)
I also made some changes to the marinade, leaving out the sugar and adding a little oil to help the soy sauce cling to the chunks of chicken. (It worked out fine, but since you’re not held down to four ingredients, consider adding a teaspoon of sugar to the marinade. It may help the chicken brown faster — caramelization, you know. While you’re at it, try a few slices of fresh ginger in the mix.)
The idea for putting thin slices of garlic in slits in the meat comes from another recipe I read long ago. It puts a subtle garlic flavor deep in the meat. You could put the garlic in several hours before you put on the marinade if you want more of its taste. Just be careful not to knock the garlic out when you’re brushing the marinade on.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- Cut the chicken breasts into two pieces each.
- With a sharp knife, cut several slits into each
- Mix the oil and soy sauce.
- Brush onto the chicken.
- Peel the garlic cloves.
- Slice them thinly.
- Push the garlic slices into the slits in the chicken.
- Refrigerate in a non-metal dish for 2-3 hours.
- Turn over once.
- Remove the garlic slices.
- Preheat oven to 350℉.
- Heat a small amount of oil in an all-metal frying pan (cast iron is good).
- Lightly brown the chicken — it should take just a few minutes.
- When all pieces are browned on both sides, put the pan in the oven.
- Cook for 20 minutes.