Quick Bites from Pender

Jade Chicken

In Recipes on March 22, 2010 at 4:06 am

Chinese Jade Chicken

Have you ever had deep fried spinach?  It’s really good.

Have you ever had deep fried nettles?  They’re even better.

We had a little of both for dinner  — my latest attempt to recreate a favourite dish from my childhood:  Jade Chicken from Vong’s Kitchen on Fraser Street in Vancouver.  I think I got it this time.

Spinach on the left, nettles on the right.  The nettles take far less time to cook in the oil — they came out lighter and crispier — so translucent they looked like little pieces of stained glass.

The spinach is very good too — cook it in small batches to prevent it from getting soggy.


I understand that this isn’t the healthiest way to prepare spinach, or nettles, but it’s a great treat for a Friday night.  Especially on our little island, where Chinese take away/delivery is not an option.

I served the spinach/nettles and chicken over brown basmati rice.  I put the rice on, then marinated the chicken while I cooked the caramel sauce and fried the spinach.  I cooked the chicken just as the rice finished.  Start to finish:  45 minutes.

Jade Chicken

Yield:  2 servings

Chicken Breasts, boneless & skinless, in small cubes 2
Soya Sauce 3 T 45 ml
Chinese Cooking Wine or Sherry 1 T 5 ml
Sugar 2 T 30 ml
Spinach, washed, dried, stems trimmed 1 bunch
Vegetable or Peanut Oil for deep frying 4-6 C 1-1 ½ L
Vegetable Oil 1 T 15 ml
Sesame Seeds for garnish 1 t 5 ml
s+p TT

T=tablespoon     t=teaspoon   ml=millilitres          C=cups
L=litres   TT=to taste

Marinate the chicken in the soya sauce and cooking wine.  Season lightly with pepper and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, mix the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and cook over high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, without stirring, until a deep amber caramel.  Remove from the heat.  Slowly and carefully stir in 2 tablespoons of water.  Set aside.

In a wok or saucepan, heat the oil for deep frying to 350 F.   Fry the spinach leaves in small batches that don’t overcrowd the pan.  Cook until crisp and translucent, and still green.  Do not allow to brown.

Remove the spinach with tongs and drain well on paper towels.  When all batches are done, season lightly with s+p.

As the last batch of spinach cooks, heat 1 tablespoon veg oil in a frying pan or wok over med high heat until smoking.  Add the chicken to the pan – do not overcrowd.  Immediately pour the caramel over the chicken, and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes, until the chicken is browned.  Turn chicken and cook another 2 minutes, or until cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Arrange spinach on top of rice, and pile chicken in the centre.  Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.



  • Be careful of splatters when deep frying the spinach!
  • I used about ½ nettles in my version.  If you have access to them, this is really an amazing way to eat nettles.  Delicate, unique and delicious.
  • I used a mixture of breast and thigh meat for our dinner…we like dark meat around here.
  • The nettles around here are starting to get big (and not so tender in salads).  This is a great way to use those larger nettle leaves.  Everything deep fried tastes good…

  1. Jade chicken sounds like a beautiful recipe! Mm. I’m making cupcakes.

  2. Just discovered your site – lovely images, bright & inspiring. My roommate & I used to live within a few blocks of Vong’s & Jade Chicken was a favourite. Mmmm…. thank you for the memory jog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: