Chicken Hekka is a local Hawaii dish of simmered chicken, vegetables, and noodles. Think of it as Hawaii's version of Japanese sukiyaki!
Oh Chicken Hekka! This is such a classic local Hawaii dish, and brings back so many happy childhood and potluck memories ^_^
Do you know about Japanese sukiyaki? Chicken Hekka is like the Hawaii version of sukiyaki! It's a simmered chicken, vegetable, and noodle dish that's seasoned with a combination of chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil (all common Hawaii kitchen pantry ingredients).
The main vegetables in the dish are ginger, garlic, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and canned bamboo shoots.
People love making Chicken Hekka because it tastes super onolicious, but also because it's a forgiving and flexible recipe.
It's one of those "use what you've got in your fridge" recipes. Leave out the ingredients you don't have, add any ingredients you do have. Simmer it all on the stove and then eat! Eat with rice, of course (more on that below).
This noodles are an essential part of this dish! We use cellophane noodles which are sold under many different names. Look for a noodle with one of these names:
- Cellophane Noodles
- Glass Noodles
- Mung Bean Noodles
- Bean Thread Noodles
- Long Rice Noodles (this is the term we mostly use in Hawaii)
When dried, the noodles are white-ish, but when cooked they turn translucent. These noodles are super cool because they are SO GOOD at soaking up broth. (Don't accidentally get rice vermicelli noodles which will stay white after cooking.)
If you're a bit confused about the getting the right noodles, just look at the ingredient list. There should be three ingredients listed on the package: mung bean flour, potato starch, and water.
The classic flavors of Chicken Hekka are made from a foundation of four ingredients:
*About the chicken broth: if you have homemade broth, great! Store bought broth is also great. We also often just use bouillon when it comes to cooking stirfry and simmered dishes.
This recipe also calls for dried shiitake mushrooms. To rehydrate the mushrooms, you'll have to soak them in hot water for an hour. Don't throw away the water after soaking! The water will become a flavorful mushroom broth. Instead of wasting this mushroom broth, you can replace some of the chicken broth with the mushroom broth.
One Pot Lunch/Dinner
This is truly a one pot meal.
Once you have all your ingredients in place, this dish comes together easily. Saute the chicken with ginger and garlic. Add in all the liquids. Then add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Then add the noodles. Finish with green onions and watercress.
You just keep adding the ingredients into the pot, step by step. By the time you are done cooking, you'll have one very flavorful, comforting dish. I made this dish a lot in college when I was homesick.
Eat With Rice
Chicken Hekka is technically a noodle dish. But we love rice in Hawaii so we eat this dish with rice. Yes! It is a noodle dish that you spoon over rice. Get a big bowl of rice and spoon the Chicken Hekka over rice like a stew. It's so good when everything is steamy and hot.
You remember this Ants Climbing a Tree dish? It's a famous Sichuan noodle dish that's also traditionally eaten with rice.
Rice and noodles do make an excellent pairing ^_^
P.S. Chicken Hekka is also similar to a famous Hawaiian dish called Chicken Long Rice...they both use the same type of cellophane noodles and chicken. It's also one of those comforting saucy/brothy dishes.
Tips and Questions
This recipe includes all the "classic" Chicken Hekka ingredients. But the fun part about this dish is that it is flexible. Skip the veggies you don't have, use the veggies you already have. Add, replace, or reduce or add more, it's all up to you.
These are other popular Chicken Hekka ingredients:
- Shirataki Noodles
- Bean Sprouts
- Napa Cabbage
- Canned baby corn
- Replace dried shiitake mushrooms with fresh mushrooms (any kind will do, though enoki, beech, and cremini are most popular) or canned mushrooms.
Tip: basically any type of meat, veggie, or starch you would include in sukiyaki will also work for Chicken Hekka.
Chicken Hekka is best the day it's prepared but will keep for 3 days in the fridge.
1-2 minutes in the microwave.
Chicken Hekka Recipe
See below and enjoy ^_^
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, julienned
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups chicken broth (or 2 cups chicken broth + 1 cup of the shiitake mushroom soaking water)
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup mirin
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in a cup hot water for 1 hour to rehydrate, then thinly sliced
- 1 8-ounce can bamboo shoots
- 5 ounces cellophane noodles (also called bean thread, mung bean, or glass noodles)
- 3 stalks green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 bunch watercress, cut in half (stems and leaves)
- In a large saucepan, brown the chicken over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic. Saute for 2 more minutes.
- Add the chicken brown, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil to the pan. Bring to a boil.
- Add the onion, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Mix and then turn the heat to low, put the lid on the pan and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and add the cellophane noodles. Cook 6-8 minutes more minutes over medium heat until the noodles are cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed. You want the final dish to be "saucy" but not soupy.
- Add the green onions and watercress stems. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat. Add the watercress leaves. Mix and serve! Eat plain or spooned over a big bowl of rice.