My Russian chicken Stroganoff recipe makes the best chicken Stroganoff. Inspired by the old Shanghai-style of Stroganoff, it’s incredibly rich, redolent of spices, and slightly tangy due to the addition of Worcestershire sauce, which was added to beef Stroganoff in the Russian restaurants in Shanghai and Harbin in China in the early 20th century.
If you loved my authentic beef Stoganoff recipe and my mushroom Stroganoff recipe, both based on my Russian family recipes, then I guarantee you that you’re going to love this chicken Stroganoff recipe, perhaps even more. It’s just as creamy and it’s even spicier – and by that, I mean richly spiced, not spicy-hot.
Another thing that sets apart this chicken Stroganoff recipe is umami. My chicken Stroganoff has even more umami thanks to a few additional ingredients inspired by the Asian stops on the Stroganoff global grand tour that saw the dish travel from Russia via Europe and Asia to Australia and the Americas.
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Chicken Stroganoff Recipe for a Rich, Spicy and Tangy Old Shanghai Style Stroganoff
We’re at the start of our third week of staying at home due to a hard lockdown here in Siem Reap, which explains all the chicken dishes of recent weeks – Mexican chicken tinga taco, Cape Malay chicken curry, Burmese Indian-style chicken curry, Moroccan chicken tagine, Thai larb gai, spicy chicken lettuce wraps, now this chicken Stroganoff recipe, and next up is a Burmese fried chicken. We had a lot of chicken in the freezer.
I grew up eating the classic Russian beef Stroganoff, which was very similar to the recipe I published, with a few small tweaks. I shared a vegetarian version of that – my mushroom Stroganoff recipe (link above) – and as we have all this frozen chicken in the fridge, I thought I’d develop a chicken Stroganoff recipe.
For the Russian cookbook based on my family recipes that I’ve been working on in between the Cambodia cookbooks, I’ve been researching the history of the Russian émigrés who fled to China in the early 20th century, as part of my research into the journey my family took from Europe to Australia at the end of World War II.
My research may have gone a little off track, but my knowledge was enriched as a result. This chicken Stroganoff recipe is inspired by those Russian exiles who first settled in Harbin, then Shanghai, and later Hong Kong, taking their beef Stroganoff on a journey through Asia with them.
In each of those cities they established vibrant Russian communities. There were Russian owned hotels, Russian bakeries, Russian delis, Russian tea rooms, cafés and bars, and, of course, Russian restaurants. While the vast majority of those establishments have long gone and those that remain open are no longer owned by Russians, Stroganoff still appears on menus everywhere from Shanghai to Hong Kong.
You’ll find a beef Stroganoff in Hong Kong that is redder in colour than the traditional Russian Stroganoff. It’s heavy on ketchup, which was invented in China, and includes Worcestershire sauce, which, with its fermented fish, tamarind, chilli pepper, soy, and cloves is distinctly Asian.
But I liked the sound of the Stroganoff that was served in Old Shanghai, which was said to have included soy sauce along with the Worcestershire sauce. Don’t you just love how food travels? Just a few tips to making this chicken Stroganoff recipe.
Tips to Making this Chicken Stroganoff Recipe
As usual, just a few tips to making this chicken Stroganoff recipe. Let’s start with the chicken. When slicing the chicken breasts, make sure to slice diagonally across the grain. I’ve used chicken breasts here, but you could try boneless thighs. I like my chicken pieces to average around 2cm x 5cm in size but you could make them a bit larger. I wouldn’t go smaller.
When I coat the chicken in the flour mix, I spice up the flour with paprika. I also include a little paprika in the sauce despite the early Russian beef Stroganoff excluding paprika, which just seems wrong to me. Make sure each piece of chicken is completely covered in flour and only fry the chicken pieces just until they brown then remove them immediately as you don’t want to over-cook them.
While most cooks would automatically reach for a deep fry pan or cast-iron skillet for a dish like this, we love using our flat bottomed wok for doing the chicken quickly to seal in the flavour, as our wok barely leaves our stove, but by all means use the same cast iron skillet or large pan you do the onions and mushrooms in. This will be the pan you do the whole dish in.
This chicken Stroganoff recipe uses both sour cream and cream, and I find that results in a super creamy dish. I know a lot of American Stroganoff recipes incorporate a flour slurry, but I don’t think it’s needed and I dislike the texture and taste. If your sauce isn’t thick enough, turn up the heat and reduce it more.
Compared to my beef and mushroom Stroganoff recipes, I’ve bumped up the spice and condiments in this chicken Stroganoff recipe. Along with the Worcestershire, tomato sauce and soy sauce, I’ve added fish sauce.
But if you don’t use a lot of fish sauce and find it too salty or funky, then don’t add the full measurements the recipe calls for immediately. Start with half, taste, then add more, little by little, trying it in between, to suit your taste.
Or don’t. We all have different palates, so my idea of salty might be very different to your idea of salty. Which is why I’ve indicated that the salt at the end is optional, but I find it sometimes needs it when I have a final sample before serving.
With the fish sauce, keep in mind that some fish sauces are saltier than others. We recommend Thailand’s Megachef for a quality fish sauce, as its sodium levels are always consistent.
With my beef Stroganoff and mushroom Stroganoff recipes, I recommend traditional Russian accompaniments of mashed potatoes, crispy shoestring fries or buckwheat kasha, but as this chicken Stroganoff recipe is more Asian inspired, I suggest rice – and perhaps a combination of brown rice types, as I’ve used here – or even noodles.
With so much cream, you’ll probably want a Russian garden salad on the side. It’s actually rare that Russians would eat a dish like Stroganoff alone. Most of my Russian family meals were shared meals with an array of dishes on the table. It was not unusual for baboushka to serve Stroganoff or stew as part of a family feast that included piroshki, Russian pelmeni and vareniki, stuffed cabbage rolls, a beetroot potato salad, and perhaps chicken kotleti.
Despite the Asian inspiration, and its travels and migrations, chicken Stroganoff remains inherently Russian, which means you will want a garnish of fresh dill, and perhaps a dollop of sour cream. Serve with dishes of gherkins and additional sour cream on the table.
Chicken Stroganoff Recipe
- 800 g chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tsp ground sweet paprika
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp quality sea salt
- 3 tbsp neutral cooking oil divided
- 2 white onions roughly sliced
- 250 g brown mushrooms sliced in halves or thirds depending on size
- 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
- 200 ml sour cream
- 100 ml cream
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground smoky paprika
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tbsp quality fish sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- salt to taste
- Slice the chicken diagonally across the grain into pieces of around 2cm x 5cm.
- Sprinkle the flour, paprika, white pepper, and sea salt onto a plate, use a fork to combine well, then roll the chicken pieces in the flour so each piece is completely covered.
- In a wok on medium-high heat, heat two tablespoons of cooking oil until the oil sizzles when you drop a little flour in, then fry the chicken pieces first on one side then on the other just until they brown and remove immediately.
- In a cast iron skillet or large pan, on low heat, gently fry the onion slices in a tablespoon each of butter and a neutral cooking oil until translucent and soft, then set aside.
- In the same skillet or pan, turn up the heat and sauté the mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil until brown, then turn down the heat, add the sour cream and cream, the onions and chicken, then the spices and sauces and mustard, and gently simmer for ten minutes or so until the sauce thickens and spices meld together. Taste and if needed adjust the seasoning, adding a little salt if you like.
- Plate individually with rice or noodles, garnish with fresh dill, and serve with dishes of gherkins and additional sour cream.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our chicken Stroganoff recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.