The other day I was on the lookout for something quick to cook, which Chinese food almost always is. I like cooking Chinese food at home. You can keep the notoriously high fat counts down and never worry for a moment whether your food contains MSG. I came across a recipe for Bourbon Chicken. The first thing I noted was that there was no bourbon in Bourbon Chicken. Then I read the recipe sharer’s note stating that a Chinese cook working in a restaurant on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street developed the original recipe. I took that at face value and proceeded to cook the dish. It really is one of those sweet and spicy stir- fries that I find addictive. They turn an ingredient as inexpensive and mundane as skinless chicken into something exotic and, in this case, truly worth making and eating. And besides who wouldn’t want to try a recipe that had received no less that 2800 reviews on www.food.com, which is where I found it. Having enjoyed it so much and wanting to pass it on, I went back to find out all I could about that Chinese Chef on Bourbon Street.
|Our local Mall.
Yes, that’s Central Park out the window.
Sad to say, I am afraid Bourbon Chicken is one of those myths you encounter in the world of cooking. One writer wrote “This dish is about as Chinese as I am”. She went on to say that “there was not a shred of evidence” this item originated on Bourbon Street or even in New Orleans but in a mall food court somewhere. Our local mall is called “The Shops at Columbus Circle” and the only thing that passes for a food court is a branch of Bouchon Bakery, which is owned by Thomas Keller. Yes, thatThomas Keller. He also operates Per Se, also in “The Shops at Columbus Circle” and which is considered New York’s most expensive restaurant. With a $310 tasting menu, I would have to agree. All this is to say, I shouldn’t have been surprised that Bourbon Chicken had never crossed any menu I’d ever read. But whatever its origin, this dish is well worth making. It comes together so quickly, it’s economical and fast and simple to cook. So what if its originator is anonymous. They still call Asia ‘the mysterious east’, don’t they? Here is the recipe:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove chicken. Add remaining ingredients, heating over medium Heat until well mixed and dissolved.