When a dish contains the word herbal and looks as homely as this, I knew immediately that it will be the best remedy to fix my home sickness.
The Chinese have been practising traditional medicinal treatments for the longest time. We believe that everything must be a balance of the yin and yang, including our body. Almost all of our traditional medicine is derived through herbal concoction – that means, steep or slow boil the raw herbs, usually with other ingredients like chicken, in a pot of liquid to draw out their therapeutic constituents.
” I grew up drinking a lot of Chinese herbal soups and eating a lot of tasty herbal dishes. I love their strong, rich aroma and their hearty soulful taste which reminds me of home – it’s very very therapeutic and an indulgence at the highest level ”
Not all Chinese herbs are sweet and I’ve tasted a fair share of bitter ones – especially when I was sick and mom would feed me with these really dark and bitter medicinal soup. If my memory serves me right, I would always have a few assamboi (salted dried prune) on standby to curb that bitterness. If you’re not used to Chinese herbs, you’ll find that the smell and taste can be a wee bit over powering, but their health benefits totally outweighs everything else.
This dish is truly an indulgence – with fall-of-the-bone sweet tasty tender chicken meat, couple with that aromatic soup broth is an indescribable feeling. Everything in this dish just hits the right balance of yin and yang. With the first spoonful, I felt a gush of wholesomeness – pause and I am home!
Try it this weekend and have a good one 😉
Chinese Herbal Chicken (adapted from Boon’s Secret Recipes 2)
2 pcs chicken maryland, cleaned
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
300 ml water
(by order of the pictures)
10 red dates
1 tbsp Chinese wolfberries or goji berry
10 g dang gui (angelica root)
5 pcs dang shen (codonopsis root)
2 pcs bei qi (astragalus)
1. Marinade chicken with 1 tsp of dark soy sauce and 1/2 tsp of salt. Set aside for 30 mins.
2. Simmer the seasoning and herbal ingredients in a medium size pot for 10 mins using low heat. This helps to open up the flavours and aroma of the herbs.
3. Line a shallow flat dish with 4-5 layers of foil, each piece to leave sufficient lengths to be able to cover the chicken later. It is important to layer the dish properly to prevent the soup broth from flowing out during steaming. Fold the foil gently into the middle and crimp them together to cover the chicken properly.
4. Heat up the steamer. When smoke starts coming out, gently place the dish into the steamer. Steam for 2 1/2 hours – the long steaming time will bring out the goodness and aroma of the herbs. Constantly check to ensure there is sufficient water for steaming.
5. Turn off the heat and serve immediately. Do not open the foil until all your family members are seated because you want to be there to catch that beautiful smell of herbal concoction. Trust me, it’s worth it! Serve with steamed rice and lots of stomach space.
Note: The herbs used in this dish are common Chinese herbs and can be found at Asian Grocers.