Sheldon Simeon’s One-Pot Chicken Hekka Is the Ultimate Clean-out-the-Fridge Meal

published May 29, 2021
Weeknight Hawaiian with Sheldon Simeon
Sheldon Simeon's Chicken Hekka

Somewhere between a braise and a stirfry, hekka is an ideal “clean out the fridge” meal because you can use whatever vegetables and greens are on hand.

Serves4 to 6

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Credit: Rachel Cook - Half Acre House

Hekka is an old-fashioned dish you’ll often see at church potlucks and social events. I even know an uncle or two who don’t consider a gathering official unless someone brings hekka.

Most food scholars described hekka as a local take on Japanese sukiyaki, but being local, there’s probably some Chinese influence in there as well. Somewhere between a braise and a stir-fry, hekka is an ideal “clean out the fridge” meal because you can use whatever vegetables and greens are on hand and add them to the pot. The constant part of hekka is what we call long rice: dried cellophane noodles that are soaked in water first, then finished in the pot, absorbing the flavors of shoyu, mirin, ginger, garlic, and chicken broth.

Even though there are already noodles in the dish, many people like to eat hekka with rice, which is a testament to how much Hawai‘i loves rice and how little we worry about carbs. While rice is nice, it’s not strictly necessary here — hekka makes for a balanced and flavorful one-pot meal all by itself.

Credit: Rachel Cook - Half Acre House

Sheldon Simeon's Chicken Hekka

Somewhere between a braise and a stirfry, hekka is an ideal “clean out the fridge” meal because you can use whatever vegetables and greens are on hand.

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup

    shoyu (soy sauce)

  • 3/4 cup

    mirin

  • 6

    dried shiitake mushrooms

  • 6 ounces

    dried cellophane or glass noodles, or rice vermicelli

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons

    toasted sesame oil

  • 2 pounds

    boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, sliced into 1-inch-wide strips

  • 2 tablespoons

    grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

  • 2 tablespoons

    minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

  • 1 cup

    diagonal-cut carrot slices

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    baby corn, halved lengthwise on the diagonal

  • 1 cup

    canned sliced bamboo shoots

  • 4 cups

    chicken broth

  • 2 cups

    fresh watercress, cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 2

    small baby bok choy, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

  • 4 ounces

    abura age (deep-fried tofu), sliced into 1/2-inch-wide strips, or 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed

  • 6

    scallions

  • Cooked rice, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, shoyu, and mirin and set aside. Place the dried shiitakes in a bowl and cover with warm water to soften. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with warm water to soften.

  2. In a large wok or Dutch oven, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, increase the heat to high, and sauté until the meat is mostly cooked, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the carrots, onion, baby corn, bamboo shoots, shoyu mixture, and chicken broth. Reserving the soaking liquid, drain the mushrooms, cut off and discard any stems, and slice the caps. Add them and the soaking liquid to the pan. Bring all of this to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Drain the cellophane noodles (they should be softened at this point) and cut into 3-inch lengths. Add them to the pan along with the watercress, baby bok choy, abura age, and scallions and simmer until the greens are blanched but firm, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve with cooked rice, if desired.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Cook Real Hawai’i by Sheldon Simeon and Garrett Snyder, copyright © 2021. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Credit: Ryan Siphers



This recipe is part of our weeknight Hawaiian cooking guide, designed to bring the vibrant and colorful cuisine of Hawai’i into your kitchen. Head to the intro piece to read more from Sheldon, and check out all of the recipes below.

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Somewhere between a braise and a stirfry, hekka is an ideal “clean out the fridge” meal because you can use whatever vegetables and greens are on hand, along with dried cellophane noodles, shoyu, mirin, ginger, garlic, and chicken broth.
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