My husband introduced me to this dish at Mr. Choi Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant in Robinsons Galleria. He discovered this restaurant through a business acquaintance who was so fond of Mr. Choi that most of their meetings are held there. Anyway, technohub obviously loves to eat. And whenever he discovers a fantastic dish, he’d take me to the restaurant to sample it. Not just once or twice, but until I am able to copy the dish myself. (Of course sometimes it would take too long 😛 )
It took me two visits to Mr. Choi Kitchen, and two attempts in my kitchen to finally come up with this acceptable version of the dish. The original restaurant version uses fish fillets. I used chicken thigh fillets instead. I prefer the red meat of chicken thighs over breasts because it is tastier and more tender. Besides, chicken thighs made it to the list of Women’s Health‘s Best Fitness Foods because they are rich in iron, zinc and B Vitamins. Isn’t this great to know?!
Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole (for four)
4 cups cooked rice
1 cup chicken thigh fillets (no skin), sliced into thin strips
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 tbsp canola
salt and pepper to taste
For Cheese Sauce
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp butter
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup all-purpose cream
1 cup grated cheese
1. Cook onions in hot canola until transparent. Add the chicken strips and mushrooms. Stir for a few minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low fire until chicken is cooked, about five minutes. Stir occasionally. Set aside when done.
2. To make the cheese sauce:
- Melt butter in a sauce pan, and stir in flour. Stir continuously with wooden spoon over low heat until mixture is fairly smooth and begins to bubble. (Be careful not to burn the butter, so do this over low heat.) You now have a roux.
- Take the pan off the heat, and whisk in a small amount of the milk (about 2 or 3 tablespoons). Blend milk with the roux well.
- Return mixture to medium heat. Gradually add the rest of the milk while stirring continuously. When the liquid starts to boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the sauce thickens. Add the grated cheese and keep stirring until melted. Finally stir in the cream. Season with salt to adjust taste. Set sauce aside to cool a bit.
3. Pre-heat oven.
4. On an 8-inch casserole/ baking dish, pack the cooked rice to form a 2-inch bottom layer. Top the rice with the chicken-mushroom mixture, followed by the cheese sauce. Bake in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese sauce bubbles. Serve warm with fried/grilled meat or fish.