Wednesday, February 06, 2019


In conversation with a chance-met tourist visiting from the interior, the subject of chicken came up. The closest he had come to chicken in San Francisco was 'General Tso's Chicken'. Which did not impress him. And that is perfectly understandable, as that dish was invented in New York by someone trying to make a living selling pan-fry to uneducated East Coasters. Fried nuggets, chilies, sweet sauce, scallions.
It's not Chinese, really, but American kibble.

The most Chinese of chicken preparations is probably 瑞士雞翼 ('seui-si kai yik'; "Swiss Wings"). Which has nothing to do with Switzerland, but was invented in Hong Kong. Goes great with alcohol. Or hot beverages.

We talked at very great length about chickens. He did not know that Werner Herzog loathed chickens. There is a lovely video on youtube of Mr. Herzog detailing precisely why and how, and though not in German, it betrays a grim and very Teutonic specificity.

I am not the kind of person who is particularly fond of chickens either, and would probably not want one as a pet. But for dinner they can be excellent.

Here, then, are some recipes. Serve them while watching a Herzog movie.
The first several are Chinese dishes, as an antidote to General Tso.

Soy Sauce Chicken

One whole chicken, about four pounds.
Two cups soy sauce.
Half a cup sherry or rice wine.
Six TBS cane sugar.
Six slices of ginger.
Three garlic cloves, whole.
Three scallion, sectioned.
Three star anise pods.
One piece of dried tangerine peel (陳皮 'chan pei').
One dried honey date (金絲蜜棗乾 'gam si mat jou gon').
Eight cups water.

Rinse the chicken, and trim flaps.

Gild the ginger, garlic, and scallion with a little oil in the bottom of a large stockpot, adding the ginger first, then the garlic cloves and scallion sections. Seethe with the sherry, then add everything except the chicken and bring to a boil. Simmer a few minutes, then submerge the chicken, rump upwards. Bring back to a boil, turn low, and poach for a scant twenty minutes.
Turn off heat, cover, and let stand for an hour or so.
Remove chicken and drain.

Bring pot back to a boil and reduce liquid by half. Strain and cool.

Chop the chicken into large pieces. Arrange on a platter and spoon some of the liquid over.

Ginger-Scallion Simmered Chicken Chunks

One pound chicken on the bone, whacked into chopstickable pieces.
Three scallions, sectioned.
Sliced ginger.
Four TBS sherry.
Two TBS soy sauce.
One TBS sugar.

Wash and dry chicken, dust with a teaspoon of cornflour, add a dash of oil and toss to coat. Stirfry in scant oil to firm up. Decant temporarily to a plate.
Sauté ginger and scallion till fragrant, add chicken to the pan along with the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and a splash of water.
Simmer on low for ten to fifteen minutes.
Put in a shallow bowl to serve.

Chicken and Abalone Rice Porridge

One cup of rice.
One carrot, cut into three or four pieces.
One can of abalone.
Six chicken drumsticks.
Six dried scallops (conpoy).
Eight to ten cups water.
Pinches of ground white pepper.

Plus chopped cilantro, shredded ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

Set the dried scallops to soak in a little water with a pinch of sugar added. After rinsing the rice cook it in half the water, simmer the chicken pieces and carrot in another pot in the remaining water. Once the rice is fully cooked, remove from heat. Same with the chicken. Drain the chicken liquid into the rice and while this cools, pull the chicken flesh from the bones and set aside.
Dump the carrot chunks into the pot with the rice.

Traditionally the rice would be simmered for several hours with frequent stirring (to prevent scorching) till the grains start falling apart. But it saves a lot of time to simply put the rice and cooking liquids into the blender - which is why you should let it all cool down a bit first.
When the rice has been osterized, return it to the soup pot, and bring it back to boil.

Carefully pull the re-moistened scallops apart, and add them and their soaking liquid to the pot.
Mix a little soy sauce and sesame oil with the chicken. Do not add too much, just enough to aromatize.
Slice the abalone, and add some of the abalone liquid into the rice porridge if you wish.
Add the sliced abalone only a minute or two before serving, while the soup pot is still on the burner. Abalone toughens up if cooked too long, so remove the pot from the heat shortly thereafter. Adjust taste with white pepper.
Divvy up into bowls, add chicken meat, shredded ginger, and cilantro.

Braised Chicken Wings.

A dozen chicken wings.
A dozen black mushrooms.
One cup stock.
Quarter cup soy sauce.
Quarter cup sherry.
Two TBS sugar.
Two scallions, coarse cut.
A little minced ginger.

Trim the tips off the wings, and cut them in two at the joints. Soak the mushrooms for thirty or forty minutes in a little water with a pinch of sugar. Drain, reserve liquid.

Lightly stirfry ginger and scallion, then add the wings, sugar, and half of the soy sauce. Once the wings have darkened, add everything else, and simmer for half an hour.

Saltwater Chicken

One three pound chicken.
Two cups water.
Half a cup of cane sugar.
Quarter cup of salt.
Jigger of rice wine or sherry.
Two star anise pods, two chopped scallion, two or three thick slices ginger (whacked with the back of the cleaver), and one clove garlic (also whacked).

Bring the water and the various flavourings listed to a boil.
Simmer briefly, cool down and refrigerate.

In a second vessel heat enough water to inundate the chicken entirely. When it boils, do precisely that. Remove the chicken, rinse under cold water, and repeat. The third time place the chicken in the boiling water, put a lid on the pot, and turn off the heat. After thirty minutes remove the bird and rinse under cold water. It is now at the exact stage of cooked that Chinese people like, but it would have done no harm if you had simmered it for a few minutes before turning off the heat. Or you could turn on the flame, and once it boils place the chicken in it one more time, turning off heat and letting it stand for ten minutes.

Once the chicken has been removed from the water for the last time wipe it dry, then brush it very thoroughly with sesame oil. Now prick the chicken all over with a needle, and place it in the cold salt-water mixture in the refrigerator for twenty-four hours. To serve, chop it into chopstickable chunks, strew with a little freshly minced scallion, and sprinkle with a little of the soaking liquid.
The boil-water can be used for a broth.

Drenched Chicken Chunks

One three pound chicken, chopped into chunks.
Half a cup of shelled peanuts.
Quarter cup of rice wine or sherry.
Two TBS expressed ginger juice.
One TBS cornstarch.
Half TBS sugar.
Half TBS soy sauce.

Four cups broth.
Four cups rice wine or sherry.
Minced ginger and garlic.
Chopped scallion.

Marinate chicken pieces for an hour in the half cup sherry, ginger juice, corn starch, sugar, and soy sauce. Drain and pat dry. Reserve marinade.
Meanwhile wash and soak the peanuts to remove the red skins and to soften them.

Heat oil in a pan, add ginger, add garlic, then add chicken pieces, followed shortly by the peanuts. Stir over high heat till coloured somewhat and fragrant. Add the sherry and the broth, bring to a boil, turn low and simmer for twenty minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to a dish. Add the reserved marinade to the pan, bring to a boil, and pour over the chicken. Let it stand a few minutes, then garnish with the chopped scallion and serve.

Steamed Chicken

Half pound chicken in one, two, or several pieces.
One and a half Tsp cornstarch.
One Tsp soy sauce.
One Tsp sherry or rice wine.
A little ginger, minced fine.
Pinch of ground white pepper.
Pinch of sugar.

Rub the sugar and cornstarch into the chicken all over. Put it into a shallow basin, drizzle the soy sace and sherry on top, and let it sit for half an hour. Turn occasionally. Add the ginger and put it in the steamer.
Fifteen to twenty minutes.

Chicken, Pumpkin, and Taro with Coconut Milk

材料 Ingredients:

雞: 半隻, 斬/切五,六塊 (half a chicken, cut into five or six chunks).
芋頭: 3両 (four ounces taro, peeled and chunked).
南瓜: 3両 (four ounces pumpkin, peeled and chunked).
冬菇: 5隻, 切片 (five black mushrooms, sliced)。
芹菜: 2條, 切段 (two stalks celery, coarsely cut).
葱頭: 1顆, 切成 (one onion, chopped).
葱: 1粒, 切成 (one scallion, chopped).
椰汁: 8湯匙 (eight TBS coconut milk).
上湯: 少許 (small quantity superior stock).
生粉: 少許 (small quantity cornstarch).

Rinse the chicken, rub it with a little cornstarch and set is aside.
Gild the taro and pumpkin separately in oil, set aside.

Quick fry the onion till fragrance rises, add the celery and stirfry, add the mushroom and chicken pieces and turn to coat and incorporate. Splash liberally with the superior stock, add the taro, then add the coconut milk and the pumpkin. Let it simmer for about five to ten minutes, and strew the chopped scallion over ere serving.

For presentation purposes, the chicken - coconut dish can be served in a heated clay pot (煲仔 'po-chai'). It will taste slightly better, and clay pots (on a suitable protective pad) also add considerably to the gemütlichkeit of a cosy shared meal.

Oiled Chicken

老公雞: 1隻 (one old cock, around three pounds).
薑: 2或3片 (two or three thick slices of ginger).
葱: 2或3條 (two or three scallion).
八角: 5或6粒 (five or six whole star anise).
陳皮: 半個 (half a dried tangerine peel).
糖: 5両 (about one cup cane sugar, slightly less).
豉油: 3盃 (three cups soy sauce).
黄酒: 1盃 (one cup sherry or rice wine).
水: 3盃 (three cups water).

Blanch chicken, rinse and drain.
Put a bamboo rack in the bottom of a soup pot (to keep the bird from sticking), add all flavourings and liquids, and bring to a boil. Put the chicken in the pot, simmer roughly half an hour, turning as appropriate and pouring the hot broth into the cavity. Remove the bird from the pot and brush with oil to make it shiny. Let it cool a bit.

Chop into large pieces and arrange on a platter.
Splash some of the cooking liquid over to serve.

And, as an alternative to Chinese chicken, the following:

Yellow Curry Chicken

Half a chicken, in four pieces.
One onion, minced.
One or two cloves garlic, minced.
A little ginger, ditto.
Three kemiri (candlenuts); lightly toasted, ground smooth.
One TBS. sambal ulek.
One Tsp. tamarind paste.
One Tsp. each: ground coriander, turmeric, dry ginger.
Half Tsp. each: sugar, shrimp paste.
Generous pinch ground cumin.
A stalk of lemon grass.
One cup coconut milk.
Dash of amber fish sauce.

Gild the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the kemiri, sambal, shrimp paste, and spices, stirfry till fragrant. Then add the chicken, lemon grass, and coconut milk. Cook till the chicken is tender and the oil starts coming out, about forty minutes. Add the sugar and fish sauce, and cook a few minutes more.

Poached Chicken for an offering

One whole chicken.
Two to three each: bruised stalks of lemongras, whole shallots, whole green chilies, thick slices of ginger.
One Tsp each: salt, sugar.
Half Tsp each: white peppercorns, coriander seeds.
Quarter to half Tsp turmeric.
Generous pinches tamo kuntji, langkwang (galangal).
Two whole cloves, a bay leaf, and a piece of dried orange peel.
Eight cups water.
Four cups coconut milk.
Quarter cup white liquor (either Dutch gin, or Vodka).
A jigger of vinegar.

Bring all save chicken to a boil, simmer for five to ten minutes. Inundate the bird and bring the pot back to boil. Turn off heat. Weigh the bird down - a large ceramic bowl partially filled with water will do so nicely. Do not use a metal object as it will affect taste and appearance. Let the pot sit for an hour. Then remove the chicken to a broad basin.
With a slotted spoon remove all solids from the broth. Bring the broth back to a roiling boil and pour slowly over the chicken, making sure all of it is touched by the hot liquid. Drain chicken, reserve broth to a pot and bring back to boiling, then simmer for ten minutes.
Serve the chicken and broth separately.
Chicken cool, broth hot.

Curried Chicken Chunks

One-and-a-half pounds large chicken parts
Two chopped shallots.
Garlic and ginger, minced.
One TBS ground coriander.
One Tsp each: ground cumin, turmeric, cayenne, sugar.
Pinches cinnamon powder, dry ginger, ground pepper.
TBS each: chili paste, Louisiana hotsauce, amber fish sauce.
Four or five Kemiri nuts, ground up.
One cup water or stock.
Jigger sherry.

Gild chicken, shallots, garlic, ginger. Add spices, stir till the fragrance rises, seethe with the sherry. Add the chili paste, hotsauce, and fish sauce; stir over low heat till it starts sticking. Now add the water or stock, stir the crusty bits to loosen, and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes more. Finish with some minced scallion and a squeeze of lime juice.

Paprika Chicken

1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), cut into 8 pieces.
2 garlic cloves, minced.
2 onions, thinly sliced.
2 - 4 TBS sweet Hungarian paprika.
1/2 cup chicken stock.
4 TBS sour cream (*).
A very generous pinch of ground caraway seed.
Olive oil, or butter, or bacon grease.
Salt and pepper.

Gild the onions and garlic. Rub the chicken bits with oil, plus salt, pepper, and some of the paprika. Add to the pan and brown slightly. Now add the remaining paprika and the ground caraway, stir to mix, and add the chicken stock and enough water to barely cover. Simmer for about half an hour, then stir in the sour cream.
Garnish with plenty of chopped parsley.

Stewed chicken in Coconut Milk

Eight to ten chicken thighs.
Half a cup of soy sauce.
One third cup of cider vinegar.
One and a half cups of coconut milk.
Bay leaves.
One or two sliced shallots.
One Tsp. whole pepper corns.
Eight garlic cloves, minced.

Prick the thighs here and there with a fork, marinate in soy sauce for half an hour. Drain, reserving soy sauce. Brown in a pan, and discard some of the grease. Add the sliced shallot and colour this slightly, then add everything else and simmer for half an hour or so, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.
Remove bay leaves.

Serve with steamed rice, and a little saucer of crushed garlic in vinegar on the side.

If you want, you can also add whole siling labuyo (wild chili) or siling haba (long chili) to the pan. Siling labuyo is sharper than siling haba.

Parsi-style Fried Chicken

Eight pieces of chicken.
Two large eggs.
A little ginger and garlic, mashed smooth.
Two or three hot green chilies ditto.
One cup lightly toasted bread crumbs.
One TBS plain white flour.
Half TBS cayenne.
One Tsp. ground coriander.
One Tsp. ground cumin.
Pinch ground clove.
Pinch ground cinnamon.
Dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Dash of vinegar.
Dash of salad oil.

Mix everything except the chicken, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Slash the chicken pieces deeply, thoroughly coat the chicken with the mixture, then refrigerate for several hours.

Beat the egg whites frothy, mix in the yolks. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs. Fry each side till done, then do the other side. Drain on paper towels.

Creamy Curry Chicken

One pound of chicken, chunk-cut on bone.
Two onions, chopped.
One dozen Roma tomatoes, peeled seeded chopped.
One cup cashews.
Half a cup heavy cream.
Quarter cup yoghurt.
Two TBS garam masala.
Half TBS cayenne.
Thumblength ginger.
Five or six cloves garlic.
Pinches of salt and pepper.
One teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted till quite dark, then ground fine.

Mince and smash the garlic and ginger to a paste, mix it with the yoghurt and the pinches of salt and pepper. Marinate the chicken in this for an hour.
Pour boiling water (enough to cover) over the cashews and let them soften.
Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade, and colour them well in hot oil. Remove to a plate, add the onions to the pan with a little more oil. Saute till coloured, add the tomatoes and all spices except the dark-roasted cumin seeds, and cook soft, which will be about five minutes.

Dump the cashews and their soaking water into a blender, add the contents of the pan, and osterize smooth. Return this to the pan and reduce till velvety, then put in the chicken pieces. Bring back to a boil, turn heat low, and simmer a few minutes. Stir the cream into the dish, and let it heat, but do not bring it to a boil.

Dust the dark-roasted cumin powder over the top before serving.
Decorate with the merest sprinkle of sliced green chili.

Poulet a la Juif; Stewed Chicken with Raisins.

One chicken, skinned and cut up into large pieces.
Two large onions.
Half a cup raisins, rinsed.
Half a TBS ground coriander.
Quarter Tsp. each: ground pepper, cinnamon powder, dry ginger.
Generous pinches mace, cayenne, turmeric, salt, and sugar.
Smaller pinches oregano, thyme, rosemary.
Two cups chicken stock.
The juice of one lemon.
Bay leaves.
Olive oil.

Chop the onions, fry golden them in a little olive oil, and remove to a plate.
Fry the chicken pieces till gilded, add the coriander, cayenne, and turmeric. Continue frying while stirring till material starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add onions and raisins, stir briefly, and deglaze with a splash sherry. Now add all else, and simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.


Half a dozen chicken thighs.
Two onions, sliced.
Two TBS mango chutney.
Two Tsp. ground coriander.
One Tsp. ground cumin.
One Tsp. turmeric.
One Tsp. cayenne.
One TBS flour.
One TBS lemon juice.
One TBS sugar.
Dash of Worcestershire sauce.
A jigger of sherry.
Bay leaf or two.
Chili pepper or two.
Two to three cups water.

Gently sauté the chicken thighs till nicely coloured in some oil. Add the onions, and let them softly brown. Add the water, bay leaf, and chili (chopped or not) and put on a low simmer. Mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the pot. Cook till the chicken is tender.

P.S.: Everything goes better with sambal.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

No comments:

Search This Blog


There is a new sign at the front desk at my eye-doctor's office begging people to not abuse the staff there. Subtext: if you're goin...