For this Chinese New Year, how about impressing guests with your cooking eventhough you cannot really cook? Of course, you need some kitchen gadgets for this Chinese herbs steamed chicken. But for the ingredients, you only need two main things. The chicken and the herbs.
You can make it as grand as you like buy adding some dried scallops, dried shitake mushrooms or just plain old steamed herbal chicken.
I will not make amateur cooks frighten by giving you the ‘two slices dong guai, four red dates pitted yadda yadda yadda’. Just go to any Chinese medicine hall or those vendors selling dried herbs in the market. Otherwise, you can find these pre-packed mix of herbs.
Just tell them (the vendor or medicine man) that you want something to steam chicken, don’t want too strong smell, just a hint of dong guai and you want it white and not black. There are herbs that can produce very dark coloured soups.
I got a packet of the above for RM4. I told the woman what I had written above. Don’ want smelly smelly type, don’t want bitter taste, just mild taste with a bit of dong guai smell. There are different kind of barks and roots plus longan, red dates, wolfberries and black dates.
To prepare the dish, either buy a whole chicken or chicken parts. A packet of herbs normally needs about 700 to 1kg of chicken. Otherwise, the taste will be too overpowering.
Wash the chicken and if there is time, season with some Chinese cooking wine, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
Wash the herbs and stuff a bit into the chicken cavity.
I decided to go traditional today, using this enamel double boiling pot. This pot is like the baine marie style of cooking. The chicken and herbs, plus enough water to cover the chicken goes into the smaller pot. The bigger pot is filled with water and the smaller pot rests on the water. It takes about 1 hour for the chicken to cook.
But steaming herbal chicken is a no brainer. You can either :
1) Wrap with aluminium foil and steam;
2) Put into slow cooker and slow cook;
3) Double boil it;
4) Just regular cooking pot.
You can hardly screw up a simple dish like a pot of herbal chicken. So, try it this Chinese New Year! Just remember to use enough water, don’t put too much or the soup will be too diluted.