MasterChef Australia star Poh Ling Yeow has shared her top tips for cooking succulent chicken in record time – and the stir-fry she swears by for a dinnertime crowd-pleaser.
The reality TV chef, 47, incorporates chicken into her Dan Dan noodle dishes, Thai style pineapple salad and dumplings because it’s easy to prepare when you don’t have a lengthy cooking time to work with.
Depending on the meal Poh recommends taking a unique approach to the preparation process, whether that be slicing the breast into medallions or grounding it down with a mortar and pestle.
‘This may sound a little unusual but when you are cooking a larb, stir-fry or even noodle soup, mortar and pestle the chicken instead of slicing to start,’ she said.
‘This method ensures your chicken weeps the flavour that has been lingering in the bowl from when you grounded the spices. Ensure you wash it out for next time though.’
Using high quality ingredients is a given for a fresher flavour but Poh stresses this point immensely, saying that she often grows herbs, fruit and vegetables in her backyard.
‘With chicken I find using free-range ingredients soaks up the flavours and makes for a better stir-fry, dumpling or curry,’ she said.
Poh’s top chicken cooking tips:
1. Use a mortar and pestle to soften the chicken before cooking a larb, stir-fry or noodle soup.
2. Try and choose free-range ingredients because the flavour profile will be better.
3. To avoid drying out a chicken breast slice the chicken into smaller medallions.
4. Use leftover chicken bones for creating homemade chicken stock.
5. Bake chicken skin to make for a tasty and crispy side serving.
To avoid drying out a chicken breast Poh slices the chicken into smaller medallions.
After doing so she bashes the slices with a rolling pin to create a thin, flat surface.
‘This ensures the chicken cooks at the same rate and holds the quality flavour,’ she said.
If you’re deboning a chicken yourself or happen to have leftover chicken bones, both cooked and uncooked, Poh recommends storing them in a freezer bag.
‘Never let these go to waste. They will make for a tasty ingredient in your next homemade chicken stock,’ the MasterChef star said.
She also doesn’t waste the chicken skin and says if you’ve gone to the effort of removing it from the flesh, put it between two baking sheets, season it well and roast it in the oven until crispy.
Poh calls the result ‘outrageously tasty’ and worth turning the oven on for.
Finally, to make the ultimate chicken stir-fry, Poh adds the breast or thigh pieces to hot oil and stir-fries over a high heat until it cooks through and browns.
Afterwards she transfers it over to a separate dish while preparing the other vegetables and aromatics.
Poh’s Lilydale free-range chicken and Asian mushroom stir-fry
* 60ml olive or any vegetable-based oil
* 400g chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
* 1/2 cup dried black fungus, covered in cool water to rehydrate, any woody bits torn off and discarded (easily found in Asian grocers)
* Handful dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in freshly boiled water for 30 minutes, sliced 3-4mm
* 150g enoki, shimeji or oyster mushrooms (a mix is great)
* 7 stalks spring onions, cut into 3cm batons
2 Tbsp tobanjiang OR chilli bean paste
1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 Tbsp Shaoxin rice wine
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 Tbsp water
Few sprigs fresh coriander for garnish
Steamed rice for serving
1. Combine 2 Tbsp of the oil and garlic in a medium frypan or wok over high heat. Flick a literal drop of water into the pan to check that it’s hot enough – it will sizzle.
2. Add the chicken and stir-fry until cooked through and a little browned. Transfer the chicken to plate.
3. Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl.
4. Combine the remaining oil with the garlic and sauté until the garlic starts to turn golden. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry until just wilted.
6. Return the chicken to the pan then add the mushrooms, spring onions and seasoning mixture. Toss to coat everything in the sauce well.
8. Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.
‘Return the chicken when the vegetables are just about done, toss and serve pronto,’ she said.
‘This chicken stir-fry method ensures the chicken is cooked through, stays juicy, holds its flavour and keeps the vegetables crisp.’
Poh will be joining fellow MasterChef alumni Adam Liaw and Hayden Quinn for Lilydale’s ‘Dedication You Can Taste’ masterclasses, a series of virtual cooking lessons to inspire Australian home chefs.
More details about the masterclasses and how to secure your spot can be found on Facebook.
Gallery: 20 things to do with a can of chickpeas (Espresso)