Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Steamed herbal chicken

In addition to the sweet and tangy shrimps/prawns, this is the other "tried and tested" (but not totally twisted) recipe - Precious Pea's steamed herbal chicken.

Steamed herbal chicken
What was done differently - different herbs were used. And I'm going to tell you more about these herbs at the bottom of this post.

I've done double-boiled soup before. After looking at Pea's recipe, I decided to use the only herbal pack left in my pantry, to do this- not as a herbal soup, but as this. The herbal pack has the words " 六味汤 " (literally meaning, Six-Flavored Soup) on it. It has six ingredients* - polygonatum odoratum, dried longan, dioscorea opposita, nelumbo nucifera, lilium brownii, and euryale ferox. Gosh! I have difficulties pronouncing them! I don't really know what it tastes like when boiled as a soup. Will it have six-flavors? Six flavors but what flavors? All unknown. Naturally, I will be treading on untested grounds, risky waters, if I try recipes other than soup.

However, I reckon it harmless (at most I just waste a pack of $1.50 herbal pack, *sad*) if I turn it to a steamed herbal chicken, rather than doing the traditional herbal chicken soup. The soup pack does not have Tong Kwai (Dang Gui-当归), Tong Sum (Dang Shen-党渗), as what were used in the original, but it has other herbs which, I suspect, will infuse a completely different flavor to the chicken. In addition, I added my own honey dates, and wolfberries (goji berries).

Left: pre-pack herbs; right: my own honey dates and wolfberries (goji berries).

Steamed herbal chicken (serves 2)
Ingredients: Pre-packed herbs, some honey dates, and wolfberries
-1tbsp sesame oil
-dashes of pepper
-1tsp brown sugar

Marinade (for chicken):
-2tsps oyster sauce
-1tsp dark soya sauce
-1-2tsp sesame oil

1. In a bowl, mix the seasoning mixture and chinese herbs.
2. Steam the ingredients for about 45mins-1hr.
3. After that, pour the seasoned herb mixture onto a aluminum foil and allow cool. Wrapped in foil, fridge overnight in air tight container (Precious Pea, you mentioned you had some leftover cooked chicken for next day's lunch and it was even tastier, right? So, I kept the steamed herbs overnight in the fridge to allow even more time for the herbs to release and infuse flavor. Just like marinating...). Am I being stupid ? :O
4. Next day, have your chicken thawed. If you are using bigger chicken parts, like a big drumsticks, make a few incisions on the chicken to ensure the chicken can be cooked through (Note: If using smaller chicken drummettes or wings, just make 1-2 incisions on the chicken)
5. Marinate lightly. Set aside.
6. Steam (reheat) foil of herbs for 5-10mins
7. Open up the foil of herbs, place marinated chicken into the herbs and make sure to mix the herbs evenly on the chicken.
8. Seal it real tight and steam for about 45min-1hr, or even longer, till the chicken is cooked through

Pain(time)stakingly, but very tasty. Thanks, Precious Pea! :)

For Weekend Herb Blogging taking place at FoodBlogga this week, take the opportunity to learn more about these six Chinese herbs in the six-flavored herbal pack:

1.Polygonatum Odoratum (Mandarin pronounced yu-zhu): This has a sweet, slightly bitter taste. Revolving around the root, some species of this genus-Polygonatum, are believed to have medicinal properties.
2. Dried Longan: Longans are rich in glucose, sucrose, coarse fibers, Vitamins A, ­B1, ­B2, C, niacin, tartaric acid, protein, fat and many kinds of minerals, known to be used to beautify the skin and eyes. The dried product is black, leathery and smoky in flavor and is mainly used to prepare an infusion drink for refreshment.
3. Dioscorea Opposita (Mandarin pronounced huai-shan) : The ladies will love it - ANTI-AGING!!!, and being claimed to have medicinal functions too. And I don't even know till now that this is a kind of yam which can be eaten raw.
4. Nelumbo Nucifera (Mandarin pronounced lian-zi): A kind of lotus. Read about its uses here. So interesting. Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) however, cautioned not to use these in case of constipation.
5. Lilium Brownii (Mandarin pronounced bai-he): The most common name known to you and me, as lily bulb. It has slightly bitter taste.
6. Euryale Ferox (Mandarin pronounced qian-shi): This is another flowering plant of the water lily family. Often, it is their edible seeds that are used in TCM.

All in all, the six ingredients used together, in this six-flavored pack, is typically used for improving general health.

If you already know your basil, oregano, dill, rosemary etc. herbs all too well, it might be a good chance to know some Chinese herbs you have never heard of. I've provided some useful links above that will even let you have a glimpse of what these Chinese herbs look like. It was so interesting for myself. I hope you find it handy too. :)

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