I'm guessing that not too many folks here on the mainland have heard of Chicken Hekka......
So what is Chicken Hekka? Well, most folks I know, and my Mom called it "Chicken Sukiyaki", though I thought it was a bit different than the Sukiyaki I know. There's also a Chinese influence, the addition of bean thread and ginger, and the use of white pepper for flavoring. So I'm not quite sure........
About fifteen years ago, I modified my recipe after seeing a version in Sam Choy's cookbook, With Sam Choy. I did make a couple of changes, including ratios, and not including cornstarch in the marinade.The one thing I took from that recipe was first creating a marinade for the chicken, in addition to the "warishita". That was the last bunch of changes I made, the last time I made this, maybe thirteen of so years ago.
There's one thing you'll quickly notice when looking at the photos of the Chicken Hekka:
Where the tofu??? To be perfectly frank, I forgot to buy tofu....sigh. Call it Karma for kidding Kayako of Umamimart for running out of rice. Since it was raining pretty hard, I decided to try to improvise. What I did have was some aburaage in the freezer, so I thawed that out, and quickly poured some boiling water over it remove the oil from the exterior. I cut the pieces crosswise into triangles and used that in place of tofu. And to be honest, I loved the fried tofu flavor and the aburaage also soaked up all the wonderful flavor of the sauce, so this might be the permanent change.....I'm thinking even thawed frozen tofu, which would soak up liquid like a sponge would work well too.
I also pour some boiling water over the bamboo shoot to remove the smell, which some find unpleasant. Again this is a pretty simple recipe........
1 - 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into cubes
1/2 Soy Sauce (I use Aloha Shoyu - old habits die hard)
2 Tb Mirin
2 Tb Dark Brown Sugar
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 Tb ginger grated
Dash of white pepper
1/3 Cup Canola Oil
3/4 Cup Soy sauce
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Mirin
1/3 Cup Water
2-3 Tb Canola Oil
1-2 packages of Long Rice (bean thread)
1 15 oz can of Bamboo Shoots sliced
8 oz Shiitake Mushrooms sliced
1 medium onion sliced
1 cup julienned carrot
2 stalks celery sliced
1-2 bunches watercress cut into 1" lengths
5-6 stalks green onion, green part only sliced in 1" lengths
1 2" piece of ginger crushed
1 Block of Tofu cubed or 4oz Aburaage cut into triangles
- Combine marinade items and marinate chicken for 30 minutes
- Combine sauce ingredients
- After marinating for 30 minutes or so. Heat a pot or wok over medium heat.
- Add 2-3 Tb of Canola Oil. Drain chicken and saute with crushed ginger until chicken starts to brown.
- Add the remaining marnade and bring to a boil
- Add onion, carrots, bamboo shoots, and celery and saute for a minute.
- Add the sauce, shiitake mushroom, aburaage(if using) and bean thread, mix, and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- Add watercress and tofu (if using), mix gently, bring back to a simmer, and turn off heat.
- Add green onions before removing from heat.
And yes, you'll need rice for this dish....
Yes, just like my Portuguese Bean Soup, I've got a Chicken Hekka story. The first time I recall having Chicken Hekka was in a garage in Lahaina, Maui. My Mom was from Maui, and we had to return for a funeral. Being just a "Keiki" (this was over 35 years ago), I was quite overwhelmed by all the folks...."uncles" and "aunties" that I had never met, and have never seen since. There was a gathering, and in the garage there was a large cast iron pan of "Chicken Hekka" being made. This was "Uncle's" special Chicken Hekka, and he held court, a bottle of Primo in hand. I distinctly remember being mesmerized by the bubbling pan of Hekka. "Uncle" noticed and squatted down.....I instantly caught the scent of pomade, Old Spice, and Primo..... In a whisper, "Uncle" asked me, "you wanna know da' secret of da' hekka?" It was not a question to be answered..... "Uncle" pointed to his bottle of Primo, "it's dis'.......da' secret." Fascinated, I watched "Uncle" making his Hekka and never noticed Primo being added. But the thing that I was most amazed by was that no matter how much Primo he drank, that bottle always seemed full. Hmmmm, the mystery of the unending bottle of Primo.......
Thanks for reading......no worries, a post of San Diego restaurants is coming up tomorrow!