Mongolian chicken

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Posted: Friday, January 11, 2019 6:00 am

My junior year of college, I shared an on-campus apartment with three friends. A couple of us lived together before – one was even my freshman-year roommate – and we got along well in our cozy little flat with its tiny bathroom, four twin-sized bunks and minuscule galley kitchen.

The arrangement was temporary because we all had plans to study elsewhere that second semester, two in Chicago and one in England, while I was headed to the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.

My plans changed at the last minute – my itinerary didn’t include some of the safest destinations at that time – and a few days before the end of the first semester I received a postcard from campus housing notifying me that my new roommates were arriving soon.

They both were very nice, and although we weren’t close like I was with my previous roommates (no more open-door policy with the bathroom) we coexisted quite peacefully. Solene, from France, was quiet and studious, while Andrea, originally from China, was a social butterfly.

And that woman could cook. Andrea was pretty involved with the international students group on campus and she frequently would invite friends over for supper. And not just a few; I’d come in from class or work to find 20 people crowded around our table and spilling off our extremely uncomfortable dorm couches, waiting for Andrea to finish cooking her feast.

There were students from Norway, Russia, Poland, Spain, Ghana, Japan, you name it. It was like a mini United Nations in my living room.

I loved to watch her cook. Andrea would feed all of us from that tiny kitchen, which she said was roomier and better equipped than what she was used to. She’d send out a stream of stir-fries, rice, noodles and egg rolls, and always invite me to join in. (How could I refuse?)

This dish reminds me of one of hers, with its tender, aromatic chicken, best served on a bed of fluffy rice.

For the recipe, see the Banner's online or print edition.

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