This is a recreation of one of our favourite dishes from our favourite Chinese restaurant (see another recreation from that restaurant here). It is an easy, one-pot meal that is cooked in a Chinese clay pot. It is fresh tasting, light, and healthy. If you aren’t able to find young pea shoot sprouts, you could substitute with baby bok choy, but believe me when I say that the dish just won’t be the same.
Chinese Clay Pot Pea Sprouts, Chicken and Bean Curd Recipe
makes 4 servings
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into smaller than bite-sized pieces (Note: The pea sprouts are intended to be the star of this dish. So you will notice that the ratio of pea sprouts and bean curd to chicken is quite high. If you prefer a meatier dish, use 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs.)
1 can (14.5 ounce/412 ml) of Chinese clear chicken broth (Note: Do not substitute with Western style chicken broth. Water plus a pinch or two of salt would be a preferable substitute.)
1/2 to 3/4 of a 170 gram package of dried bean curd sticks, with the rough ends and curved corners discarded (Note: If you can get your hands on some fresh bean curd sticks, that would be ideal. Fresh bean curd sticks are infinitely better than dried bean curd sticks.)
approximately 200 grams of fresh and young pea shoot sprouts
coarse Kosher sea salt
ground white pepper
Place the dried bean curd sticks in a very large, heatproof bowl. Pour enough boiling water into the bowl to more than cover the dried bean curd sticks. Soak them in the hot water until they have softened through. This could take up to 2 hours. There are very dried pieces of bean curd that will never soften all the way through. These pieces tend to be found on the ends or in the curved corners. These should be cut or broken off and discarded. Alternatively, you could soak them in cool or room temperature water over night or for up to 1 day. Once the dried bean curd sticks are softened, cut them into 2 inch long pieces. Fresh bean curd sticks do not need to be pre-soaked.
In a medium sized bowl, massage a pinch or two of the sea salt into the pieces of chicken and set aside. Place the chicken broth into a large clay pot and heat it up gradually. First heat the pot, covered, over medium heat. Once it’s hot, increase the heat to high. Once the chicken stock reaches a rolling boil, add the fresh or pre-soaked dried bean curd stick pieces. Reduce the heat slightly to maintain a strong simmer, while covered, until the bean curd pieces are soft and slightly chewy (not mushy) and they have absorbed the flavour of the chicken broth. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Turn the heat back up to high and add the chicken pieces and a dash of ground white pepper. Stir to combine and cover the pot with its lid. Once the broth reaches a rolling boil again, stir in the pea sprouts. Cover the pot until the pea sprouts are soft but still slightly crisp, and the chicken is just cooked through. Depending on how young your pea shoots are, this should only take a few seconds. It is important not to overcook the pea sprouts or the chicken. Remove from heat and serve immediately with white rice alongside other dishes. Serve this dish family style in the clay pot.