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This is really simple, and incredibly delicious, and very quick, and good for you. Works on all levels. But it does sound a bit odd.

I used to use a Chinese restaurant in Stansted a good deal, and was on very good terms with the chef, Ricky. I often used to drift into the kitchen to natter to him, and on one occasion when things were rather busy, I actually got dragooned into helping. Great. Go out for a meal and end up cooking it myself. What a deal. He did let us off the price of a bottle of wine though.

Anyway, he taught me this one. He never served it in the restaurant, but he swore blind by it.

Here’s what you need

A couple of chicken breasts, or a tin of Mr Hong’s cooked bean curd in soy sauce

Two large cloves of garlic

Three or four spring onions, two sliced finely across the length, and two shredded down the length

Light soy sauce

Dark soy sauce

Sherry or Shaoxing wine

Cornflour

Salt if you like

Now the weird bit. You need two pieces of ginger that’s been preserved in syrup. Not crystallised in sugar, in syrup. Told you it was weird.

Here’s what you do

Cube the chicken breasts into 1” cubes, or get the bean curd, and put it in a basin

Mix a teaspoon of cornflour into a tablespoon of sherry or Shaoxing wine and a tablespoon of light soy. Pour this over the chicken or bean curd, and mix well

Slice the garlic, and add to the chicken or bean curd. Mix well, but be gentle with the bean curd or it may break up

Take the preserved ginger, and rinse it well. Slice really thinly, rinse well again, and pat it dry. There goes another teatowel

Mix the ginger and the spring onion shreds into the chicken/bean curd, with a ½ teaspoon full of salt if you like

Take a teaspoon of the ginger syrup, and add that too

Leave it for about ten minutes to get the flavours working

Pile everything into a shallow bowl or saucer that will fit in your steamer. Steam over a good rolling boil of water for 5 or 6 minutes. Bean curd won’t take as long, so keep an eye on it

To serve, sprinkle on the slices of spring onion, and a dash of dark soy sauce

The thing I like about this is that the ginger is really hot, and the slight sweetness offsets the somewhat earthy taste of the other ingredients

A variant

Mr Hong may well sell tins of pickled shallots. Slice a few of these and use them instead of the sliced spring onion when you serve.

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