Over the past few weeks, we have been bulk cooking this dish and we’ve been absolutely loving it! This is a traditional Shanghainese cuisine and it is a sweet, warm and comforting food, that is perfect in this chilly weather at the moment.
To begin, prepare the chestnuts. Place them flat side down on board. Use a small paring knife or kitchen scissors to make a slit crosswise over the top. Soak them in water for about 2 hours and oven roast them at 180-200 degrees for 30 mins until the skins split open. Let them cool enough to handle, but still warm enough to work with. Quickly peel the outer shell, then remove the inner brown membrane. Warning! It can get quite messy! If you want to save time and effort, you can simple buy the ready to use ones, that can be in cans or vacuum packed bags. For a more ‘chest nutty’ taste to the final sauce, you may also mash up 3 of them.
When chopping the chicken into smaller chunk pieces, you can use a clever. First slice through the meat, then in one clean motion swing the clever with the chicken. Be careful, you might shatter the bone. If so, remove them as it can be unpleasant to bite into a bone shard! Alternatively, if you don’t want to do any chopping at all, use chicken wings!
In a large pot, heat about a tablespoon of oil and add garlic, ginger and the white portions of spring onions. Stir fry until fragrant and add chicken pieces. Briefly toss around until most surfaces have browned, then add in the mushrooms and chestnuts (both wholes and mashed up), followed by light and dark soy sauce, chilli peppers, ground up peppercorns, star anise and mix well altogether. Pour in Shaoxing wine, chicken stock and water, followed by adding rock sugar and honey. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook for 35-40 minutes.
Drain and transfer sauce into a smaller saucepan and let it simmer on medium heat for several minutes until sauce thickens. Stir in slurry cornstarch near the end. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
To serve, drizzle sesame oil over and mix with chicken chestnut mushroom pieces that were drained. Place into serving bowl/dish, then finally pour over thickened sauce. Ready to serve hot with rice or noodles. Enjoy!