Monday 8 February
Happy New Year - it's the Year of the Monkey, so extra special for Holt. As often, we only had chicken parts, but we left them as large as possible, since it's really the whole chicken that's lucky, though black beans still signify money. (Our friend Brian Carter sent us a card showing a monkey holding a peach and riding a horse, which apparently means promotion, or else that Holt will go trail-riding in an orchard this summer.)
We started by marinating four whole chicken thighs in soy sauce and Shao Xing wine, and getting our meeze in place: generous tablespoonfuls of minced ginger and garlic, a big sliced onion, and a bag of colorful little peppers, sliced into quarters.
Usually Barbara stir-fries vegetables before meat, but in this case the bone-in chicken thighs needed a long simmer. So she browned them on both sides in the hot wok, added a drizzle of chicken broth, covered, and turned down to bubble for about 15 minutes, until they were fully cooked.
They rested in the warming oven while the vegetables got stir-fried: onions first, then garlic, then peppers and ginger.
Finally, a half tablespoon of Szechuan black bean paste got stir-fried in the center of the wok, where it blended with the vegetable juices, and the chicken went back into the wok to reheat. A drizzle of sesame oil, and we were ready to serve.Kung Hei Fat Choi, everybody!