Poached chicken with sesame pak choi

And so the seasons have turned. Despite a last minute heatwave, Autumn has arrived in Germany signalling itself with the yellowing leaves on the tree in my courtyard. This time of year always feels a bit like coming home. There’s the relief of drizzle after the hot weather and a back-to-school newness that year after year never seems to quite wear off.

As a result I need a little more comfort from my food. Something clean and healthy to appease the fresh start, whilst rich enough to recognise that the nights are beginning to draw in. To meet these demands I’ve found myself turning to an old favourite: poached chicken.

I remember growing up my mum making poached chicken with soft peas, onions and a helping of boiled and buttered potatoes. It was just the thing if you’d been ill, or exam stress was getting the best of you, or if you just needed something nourishing and reasonably quick. My version also ticks those boxes, but adds some spice and Asian flavours to help warm your cockles.

Another great thing about making poached chicken is the broth that you poach your chicken in. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, but the better the stock tastes originally, the more delicious the meal will be, which holds true for any recipe that uses stock.

However, it’s worth saying that in this recipe the stock will only get better as it takes on some of the flavours from the chicken, as well as the spices and aromatics, so don’t you dare tip that down the sink. Instead use it the next day to whip up some chicken noodle soup – you could even be prepared and poach an extra chicken breast or two if you wanted some chicken shredded into it.

Poached chicken with sesame pak choi

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1l chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 3 dried birds eye chillies
  • 4 cloves of garlic, flattened
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced

For the pak choi:

  • 2 pak choi
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Add all of your liquids and aromatics to a deep pan, and slide in the chicken breasts while everything is cold. This will make sure that the chicken stays moist and tender. If you put it into already hot or boiling stock the meat will tighten and become stringy and dry, which is well worth avoiding.
  2. Bring the stock et al to the boil over a medium heat before turning the heat down and simmer the chicken for 10 minutes before taking it out. Place on a plate to one side to let it rest before slicing it.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, slice the pak choi in half and make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt that could be lurking between the leaves. Pat them dry.
  4. Brush the pak choi with toasted sesame oil and place the cut side down in a hot pan. Once the pak choi is golden (after about 2-3 minutes) turn over and add around 250ml of the broth from the poached chicken to the pan. This will steam the pak choi. It’s done once you can pierce it with a sharp knife with little resistance.
  5. Now it’s time to assemble. Slice the now rested chicken breasts and arrange next to the pak choi on a plate. Spoon over some of the remaining broth and top the greens with sesame seeds for a little crunch.
  6. If you fancied making this a little more filling I’d recommend serving alongside some steaming hot rice.

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