Marco Polo just got renewed for a 2nd season! Yay! Reunion with my Mongolian Beef and hordes of international eye candy. And of course playing the wonderful Empress Chabi. This is exciting news for everyone involved, myself included.
But what about my family? Though my girls act as if I annoy them all the time, they are at an age when they most need a mother’s guidance and influence. In my younger days, I used to love this caravan life of a circus person — traveling the world while doing something I loved to do. Having children has changed everything. While I believe many can do my job as an actress or filmmaker, only I can be the mother for my children. There are times I become paralyzed by the prospect of a great opportunity, knowing fulfilling my desire and realizing my dreams professionally also mean abandoning the people I love.
Work is a double edged sward for me. Perhaps it is so with most working mothers. I realize that I am lucky to be in this dilemma. Many people don’t have the choices that I’m facing. The ingredients of fulfillment is difficult to balance, but I have a secret ingredient in life — my husband Peter, the best husband and father anyone could ask for. He is my lobster. He is my salt.
And he does dishes.
To celebrate Marco Polo’s 2nd season, I made a delicious Chinese dish called Three-Cup Chicken (三杯鸡). Historically, it was made of 1 chicken with 1 cup each of soy sauce, cooking wine and sugar. The dish has evolved through time to its contemporary version. Mine was adapted from the recipe from rasamalaysia.com.
1 lb. chicken drumsticks (I used 1 lb. of skinless thighs)
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
2-inch piece old ginger, peeled and cut into thin pieces
2 to 3 dried red chili pepper, without the seeds (optional)
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 shallot, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon xylitol or sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine + 2 tablespoon to marinate the chicken
A big bunch Thai basil leaves
(I added 2 small boiled red skin potatoes, halved and peeled. This dish ordinarily does not use potatoes, but I improvised this time because I had two boiled potatoes lying around. I added the boiled potato after I poured in the sauce and before I cover the lid. They tasted yummy with the chicken.)
Cut the chicken into pieces and marinate in 2 tablespoon of cooking wine for 10 to 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch to the chicken and mix well.
Heat up a wok or clay pot on high heat and add the dark sesame oil. Add the ginger, garlic, shallot, chili pepper and stir-fry until aromatic.
Add in the chicken and do a few quick stirs. Add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, xylitol or sugar and continue to stir-fry the chicken. Cover the chicken and lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and stir well with the chicken, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.