As the trees in London drop dead turn into glorious shades of amber, purple and mahogany brown, as the moods precariously straddle the thin line that divides grouchy days and depressing nights, we work up an appetite for all things piping hot and soupy, that are somewhat reminiscent of chicken soup for the withered soul. Some people say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I say, the way to a good temperament and a miserly smile or two in autumn/winter is through a well-nourished and warmed-up tummy.
My first ever stew was actually made by my dear husband, M. He had taken the very ingredient I love and put a generous amount in a well-made pot of liquid gold. This ingredient was coriander. I loved how he combined that with chicken and potatoes and a good dash of milk, before I knew it, I was making this very regularly during the cold seasons. I suspect he did work his way to my heart with his cooking as well, so yes perhaps the old saying is true too.
Anyways, for the inaugural pot of stew made this year, I was all eager to conjure different flavours for the stew, and picked up some taro, chicken and coriander to make taro chicken and coriander stew. Duh. A no-brainer that is guaranteed to please (IF you don’t hate taro and coriander, I know of people who do….and I don’t understand why?!), especially when served with fluffy white rice. Carbo-on-carbo, what’s not to love? I simmered the stew down to a mush, which explains the less-than-sexy almost disintegrated chicken in the thick swamp that is taro. But I’m really trying to tempt you into the first mouthful, because this is good for you and your discerning tastebuds.
The stew was creamy and rich with Oriental flavours of dried scallops and dried shrimps (hae bee), with a little bit of zing of coriander that was infused into the stew. The chicken fell off the bone, so silky and tender, just crying out to be devoured, really. I like my stew garnished with a little more fresh coriander too, as it cleanses the palette and fires you for another bite.
Sold? Or not? Oh well, I tried. If you like it, try out my recipe. If you don’t, and I suspect it’s the taro and coriander that turned you off, replace it with other roots like potatoes, and throw in other herbs. It should still work.
Here’s my recipe:
Taro Chicken and Coriander Stew
serves 2, with rice
400g chicken drumsticks/thighs
650g taro, half chopped into small cubes, half cut into big chunks
65g coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnishing
10g dried scallops, soaked in hot water for few minutes, then broken up into pieces
5g dried shrimps (hae bee), roughly chopped if these are the large ones
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Chicken stock – 650ml hot water + 2 and 1/2 teaspoons chicken stock powder + 100ml whole milk
1. Heat oil in non-stick stock pot on medium heat. Fry garlic for a few minutes.
2. Add dried scallops and shrimps. fry for another few minutes.
3. Up stove to high heat, and sear chicken in pot until both sides are very lightly browned.
4. Add taro and fry till taro turns light golden brown.
5. Add chicken stock (should be enough to just cover the chicken, if not just make up more chicken stock in the same proportions above), stir in coriander and bring to boil.
6. Lower heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, stir continuously. Small pieces of taro should have disintegrated and thickened the stew, and large pieces of taro should be soft.
7. Garnish with fresh coriander, and serve with rice.