This week’s slow cooker meal was basically an Asian noodle soup, cooked all day and then finished off in the late afternoon. It was a good one if you had to get out of the house quickly as there was nothing to fry off, just things to throw in the slow cooker and set it going and leave. It did need a little bit of work at the other end of the day though. I did this at five o’clock, putting the girls in front of ABC kids for twenty minutes and dinner was ready. It wasn’t complicated and definitely worth the little bit of work even if it was during that tricky time of day.
1 large whole chicken
1 litre water
1 litre chicken stock
2 cups Chinese cooking wine (though I used dry sherry as I had it the cupboard and only added about a cup)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup oyster sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cloves of garlic, squished with the flat side of a knife, but still in one piece
5cm piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
3 star anise
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 fresh long red chillies halved length ways (I left this out, but it would have been much better with it)
500g bok choy (or pak choy or other Asian greens if you’ve got some in the garden), coarsely chopped
coriander and chilli, sliced thinly, to garnish
Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the chicken with paper towel, inside and out. Put the water, stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise, five spice powder and chillies into the slow cooker. Then add the chicken, put the lid on and cook on low for eight hours.
Once the eight hours is up, take the chicken out. The recipe suggests keeping it warm while you cook the greens and then chopping into six pieces, but my chook fell apart as I was lifting it out of the dish (it was so moist and gorgeous I was tempted to eat it right there standing at the kitchen bench). Instead I put it to one side as I got the green ready, and then shredded the meat, discarding the bones, gristle and the skin which had gone a bit slimy anyway.
Once you have removed the chicken, strain the rest of the broth using a fine sieve over a large bowl. Return the broth to the slow cooker. Add the greens, which have been roughly chopped, to the slow cooker, replace the lid, turn it up to high and cook for about five minutes.
Lastly, cook some rice noodles according to the instructions on the packet. (Or cook rice if you’d prefer).
To serve, divide the noodles among the bowls, top with some shredded chicken and pour over a couple of ladles of the broth and greens. Sprinkle with coriander and sliced chilli (optional).
This was a definite winner with the girls, though that could have something to do with the groovy Chinese spoons and pink chopsticks, and I found it quite tasty but definitely missed the chilli (I even forgot to add it to the top). I was happy with the flavour intensity of the broth though, which is something I struggled a bit with when using the slow cooker. Add a kick of chilli and this would have been really good I think. The chicken was amazing! And the pak choy from the garden is just so nice, it has much more flavour than anything I’ve bought from the green grocer.