Thursday, January 19, 2023

WHITE POACHED CHICKEN -- CHOPSTICKABLE CHUNKS

One of the marvelous things about living in San Francisco is that one can eat like a refined elderly Chinese gentleman, while the little Cantonese girls at the next table are indulging in their middle-America tastes big time. They were seriously nomming on the French fries and plates of spaghetti covered with ham chunks, melted white cheddar cheese, and a fried egg.
Meanwhile, I was having fun with white poached chicken (白切雞 'paak chit kai') and the traditional dip of scallions, ginger, salt, chicken grease or cooking oil. Or, if you are a Dutch American like myself, also a small saucer or chilipaste (sambal), because EVERYTHING goes with chilipaste.

White poached chicken is simple. And exactly what the name suggests. A chicken, poached in water. Then chopped into chunks suitable for chopsticking. Jade Snow Wong, my mother's classmate at Mills, describes it very well in her first book, if I remember correctly. The author of The Woks of Life has an excellent recipe: CANTONESE POACHED CHICKEN.
So I ain't gonna bother giving you my version of it.
I didn't innovate in the slightest.


If you're middle-American, you'll probably want fries with that.
And a bottle of tomato ketchup.
Instead of fries and ketchup, may I suggest stirfried mustard greens with garlic and oyster sauce? Mustard stalk and leaves (油菜 'yau choi'; "oil vegetable") are among my favourite vegetables, easy to prepare, and lightly sauced they become delicious. Or, if you are a lazy Dutch American just go to a nearby restaurant and order one plate of chicken(一碟白切雞 'yat dip paak chit kai') with a side of 蠔油炒油菜苗 ('hou yau chaau yau choi miu'; "oyster-oil sauteed oil-vegetable sprouts", baby mustard stirfried with oyster sauce). 加少少蒜。


Paak chit kai is also appropriate for your "opening the year" feast with relatives during the spring festival (春節 'chwun jit') coming up in a few days. Prepare it for late dinner Saturday evening (January 21), because the last day to cook is before the actual date of New Year (Sunday January 22).

[There's another good dish for New Year mentioned here: ho si fat choi 好事發財. Also, have dumplings.]



By the way: In almost all cases where ketchup is used, you'll find that Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is far better. You should seriously consider it.



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