Chicken with Rice Wine Dregs

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I was wandering round my favourite hangout in the neighbourhood – aka supermart – when I noticed some cookbooks in the fruits and vegetables section. Instead of being tucked away in some obscure corner, they were occupying prime real estate, right under my nose.

If you want the customer to buy something, put it where he's bound to walk past, at eye-level. This is one of the oldest tricks of supermarkets.

True enough, I stood amidst the apples, oranges and Russet potatoes and started browsing the cookbooks.

Sesame Chicken

Thursday, 20 May 2010


According to my mother, my Sesame Chicken was better than hers. Which was a bit strange since, as far as I could see, we cooked the dish in exactly the same way. 'No! There's something different. Yours is much nicer,' she said.

Silkie Chicken Super Soup – Black is Beautiful

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

After totally discrediting my mother's stir fried liver in a previous post, I thought I should salvage her reputation by featuring something else from her repertoire. Something that has curative powers instead of making someone sick or dead.

The immediate dish that came to mind was a soup made with black chicken, aka Silkie chicken or 乌鸡. My mother, like millions of other Chinese mothers, made it with ginseng when it was exam time, or dang gui (当归) when it was 'that time of the month' for girls.

Before I post a recipe, I usually read up about the dish and ingredients used. So, I googled 'black chicken' . . . and . . . wow, it looks like there's some scientific basis for Silkie's curative powers. It might not be just an old wives' tale that black is better than white after all. In fact, good old Silkie is a superfood like blueberries and pomegranates!

My mother didn't know what superfood was. To her, black chicken was just '补'. Long before the word 'superfood' became popular, the Chinese knew that some foods were better than others or 补. These foods with superpowers have been used, for thousands of years, to improve energy levels . . . and whatever else that need improving. You know, important things like virility, fertility, intelligence, hair colour, hair quantity, complexion, wound healing, hormonal balance, stamina, eyesight and ultimately, life expectancy! Whoa, life expectancy? Surely that's stretching it a bit too far? Well, maybe not, if you read the research on carnosine, the antioxidant found in abundance in black chicken.

Carnosine is a protein found in animal products such as chicken, pork, beef, milk and eggs. It's a powerful antioxidant which prolongs cell life span by slowing down the damage that cellular proteins suffer over time. As a result of this effect, which has been demonstrated in rats and cultured cells, health supplement peddlers claim that carnosine is good for anything from cataracts to Alzheimer's disease, autism, diabetes, wrinkles, building muscles, etc. Heheh, they would, wouldn't they?

Some doctors are using carnosine for cataract patients. As for treating other ailments, the research isn't conclusive yet. However, we do know that black chicken has twice as much carnosine as regular chicken. Animal brains are also packed with carnosine. Does double-boiled pork brain soup with ginseng – which my mother also made me drink! – really help get good exam grades because it's loaded with carnosine? Maybe the Chinese are right about brains being a superfood?

I have more faith in Silkie's curative powers now that I know it has lots of antioxidants. Hah! I'm sure my mother would be most happy to hear that. I have one last question though: is black chicken white or red meat?

Check these out:
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Drunken Chicken
and Soft-Boiled
Eggs
Pork and Garlic
Chives Dumplings
Roasted Peppers
and Mushrooms
Stir Fried Crocodile

Xi Yan's Kou Shui Ji (口水鸡) – Drool Worthy Recipe

Monday, 9 November 2009

PhotobucketI'm not sure what Kou Shui Ji (口水鸡) should be in English. This is a Jacky Yu (of Xi Yan Private Dining) recipe, which he has named Chicken in Hot and Spicy Sauce. But I think that's a bit too generic. Sounds like Kung Pao Chicken, which is completely different. '口水' actually means 'saliva' and '鸡' means 'chicken'. Hence, '口水鸡' is sometimes translated into 'Saliva Chicken'. Ho . . . hum, I don't like that either. The translation is a bit too literal and direct for me. I'm leaning towards Sichuan Drooling Good Chicken, meaning it's way better than 'finger lickin' good" fried chicken. What do you think? Kou Shui Ji is indeed drool worthy, especially with the addition of century eggs, which are not found in the original Sichuan version. It's Jacky Yu's personal touch and once again, it's a brilliant adaptation. The spicy and fragrant sauce brings out the creaminess of the century eggs, which adds a different textural dimension to the dish. And provides a nice contrast to the crunchy Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts. But if you're not into century eggs, by all means leave them out. With or without the scary looking black eggs, the poached chicken is really yummy with the sauce and condiments. I like this dish so much I have a bottle of the sauce mixed and ready to be used with just a few shakes. I drizzle it on not just chicken but also pork, prawns, squids and instant noodles. This is my Homemade Sichuan Miracle Sauce. It's good for everything!

Other Jacky Yu (Xi Yan) recipes:
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Prawns with Red
Fermented Beancurd
Crispy Pork Ribs with
Dried Tangerine Peel
Tomatoes in Sesame
Wasabi Sauce
No-Steam Radish Cake
(Lor Bak Ko)