Saturday, January 11, 2014

Wok Wednesdays: Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney

Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge is not only a cookbook that teaches a cooking technique, filled with delicious recipes, but it's also a bundle of personal stories, journal, and a history lesson. My limited knowledge of Chinese history has been from a novel, Hawaii by James Michener, who describes how the seafaring Polynesians were the first to inhabit the islands of Hawaii.  Over centuries, the population would increase.  Chinese laborers (which I learned from the cookbook that many are Hakkas) were among the many to populate the Hawaiian Islands followed by the Japanese, and the Philippines.   Pineapple and sugar plantations was a booming industry which were run mostly by the rich, mainly American whalers and English missionaries.  The laborers arrived to escape poor living conditions in their country, and others came to work plantations in order to send money home to their families. (Interesting how times have not changed, America remains the land of opportunity for many immigrants).

Grace talks about the Hakkas, a group of gypsies, in the Northern province of China who were forced to migrate to the south provinces. By the mid-1800s, a mass exodus fled to North, South America and as far places as India.  Far from home, the immigrants maintained traditions which included cooking traditional dishes that will remind them of home. 

Naturally, these traditional dishes will be infused with foods that are indigenous to the area.  This week's recipe, Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney blends the island influence of mango chutney with the Asian flavors of soy sauce, ginger and garlic.

Growing up in the Philippines, much of the culture have been influenced by the Spaniards and Chinese which include the culinary tradition. Noodles (pancit), egg rolls (lumpia) and soy sauce are some of the Chinese influence that comes to mind.   

Trinidad's heritage include influences of Creole and Indian, hence, the spiciness of Scottish bonnet peppers and use of mango chutney.

The sweetness of the mango chutney and savory taste of the soy sauce and aromatics blended nicely together which the whole family enjoyed.

Main ingredients include the usual aromatics (garlic and ginger), dark soy sauce, onion, cilantro and Scotch Bonnet peppers.  I substituted fresh Thai red chills for the bonnet peppers.

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