Tag Archives: Chinese

Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken Recipe

Chinese herbs are most commonly prepared as soup, but they can be made into healthy, easy, and delicious dish by steaming. Here I prepare a simple dish by steaming together marinated chicken drumsticks with slices of rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, along with my favorite Chinese herbs, which include angelica root (dang gui), american ginseng, jujube fruit (hong zao), goji berries (gou qi), and codonopsis root (dang shen).

Ingredients for Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken

Chinese herbs in this dish

If you do your grocery in Asian market such as Marina or 99 Ranch, you should be able to find all of the Chinese herbs used in this recipe in the Chinese herb aisle except American ginseng.

You will need to ask for American ginseng from one of the shop keepers since most likely they are stored away. I think this is because American ginseng is pricey compared to the rest, and they don’t want to risk people stealing even one tiny packet 😉

I totally understand if the task of finding these Chinese herbs on your own can be daunting. My advice is to just show the shop keeper the photo above and ask them to help you finding them.

If you live far away from Chinatown or a decent Chinese market, you can always place an online order from Amazon. But online prices are almost always more expensive, and you don’t have the luxury of inspecting them before buying.

Here are all the dried herbs and ingredients for this dish:

Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken

Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken

Marinating and steaming the chicken dish

For the chicken, if you are traditionalist like my Mom, she’ll insist on using one whole young chicken, cut up into pieces. As for me, I usually use 8-10 pieces of drumsticks since I think using oiler part like drumstick in steamed dishes make for a better dish.

In any case, marinade chicken pieces with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar, and ground white pepper for 2 hours. You can marinade the chicken in steamed proof dish so they can just go in the steamer without needing to transfer from mixing bowl to steamed proof dish, less dirty dishes to wash.

Just before the chicken is ready to be cook, stir again so the sauce coats the chicken pieces evenly, then scatter the Chinese herbs along with thinly sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, bruised garlic cloves, and thinly sliced ginger.

If your steamer is tiny, feel free to cook in batches, or make smaller portion to fit your steamer.

Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken

Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken

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Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls Recipe

If you cook Chinese dishes regularly, chances are high that you have Chinese five spice powder stocked in your pantry. This Chinese five spice chocolate chips rolls is probably something most would not think to attempt, but once you give it a try, it seems such an obvious thing to do. It elevates the more ubuquitous cinnamon rolls that we all know and love into something that is slightly more exotic, plus you get to finish that bottle of Chinese five spice powder for once.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chinese five spice powder

Cinnamon is one of the ingredients in Chinese five spice powder, along with star anise, cloves, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. Once you take a bite into this bread, you immediately detect the familiar cinnamon aroma. The other four ingredients will of course be present, but I promise it won’t be that weird at all. So please give this a try 🙂 Of course, if you don’t already have some Chinese five spice powder at home, just use the same amount of cinnamon powder and make this into regular cinnamon rolls instead.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chocolate chips > glazing

Most cinnamon rolls you see comes with the requisite white glazing on top. I don’t exactly hate it per say, but my hubby always complains that he doesn’t like it. Cinnamon rolls are generally okay even without those glazing, but here I use chocolate chips instead of glazing to provide the sugar rush. He loves this version much better since he loves all things chocolate. And I love it too since it means less work for me not having to make the glazing. Most importantly though, chocolate chips pair surprisingly well with the Chinese five spice powder.

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Chips Rolls

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Chinese Almond Cookies Recipe | Daily Cooking Quest

Chinese Almond Cookies

There is nothing like Chinese New Year to send my whole family into cookie baking frenzy. Most Chinese families will do a cookie baking marathon, churning out boxes and boxes of different kind of cookies.

What is surprising to most is that we do this mainly for the enjoyment of our guests, though it is not a secret that most people bake extras for their own enjoyment.

Among the top must bake in my house is this Chinese almond cookies, alongside other must-haves such as Chinese peanut cookies, nastar, and lapis legit (thousand layers cake).

This almond cookies recipe is super easy and perfect for beginners, so even the kiddies should have no trouble helping Moms in the kitchen.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese Almond Cookies

Whole almond vs. ground almond

Nowadays you can buy almond flour which is very fine pre-ground almond. Growing up, we don’t have such luxury of buying almond flour. Instead, we buy whole almond and grind them with a food processor.

This hand-me-down recipe assumes that you will grind your own almonds. If you use almond flour, the cookie texture will be less rustic, which may or may not be a bad thing. It should work, but know that it is different from what pass as Chinese almond cookies.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese Almond Cookies

Neutral flavor oil

The most common oil to use when making Chinese almond cookies is peanut oil. If you cannot find this, feel free to use other neutral flavor oil, such as canola or even vegetable oil.

Don’t use olive oil or coconut oil as these will impart their flavor to the cookies.

Chinese Almond Cookies

Chinese Almond Cookies

Decorating the cookies

If you are short on time, you can leave the cookies plain. Just shape them into round balls and brush with egg wash and pop them in the oven.

But if you have just a bit more time and some extra whole almonds at hand, I highly suggest dressing them up by pressing one whole almond (or a half almond) on top of each cookie, then follow with egg brush before popping them in the oven.

Personally, I always make sure I have extra almonds on hand when making these.

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Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce Recipe

Ingredients for Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

Pan-fried fish with soy sauce is one of the most classic Chinese recipe to enjoy white fish. Chinese restaurants love to serve their fish whole, and only sometimes thinly sliced, or in fillet form.

This recipe with fish fillets is the easiest and most straightforward, and you can have a really nice fish dish for lunch/dinner in 30 minutes, including prep time. ♥

Which fish is commonly used in Chinese cooking?

Most Chinese fish recipes call for whole fish, and some of the more popular fish we use when cooking Chinese dishes include red snapper, rock rish, pomfret, flounder/sole, sea bass/striped bass, tilapia, and cod.

If you are using cod, we usually use cod fillets/steaks only and not the whole fish since cod is a very large fish.

The best fish to use is live fish

I prefer using whole fish when I can buy them still living and kicking in their tanks, which you should be able too if you have access to a big Chinese/Asian grocery stores.

In almost every store that I have visited in the US, most will happily clean and cut the fish for you if you ask, so you can save some prepping time.

Be sure to ask for ice if you do this to keep the fish as fresh for as long as possible.

Also, cook the fish on the same day you buy it, preferably immediately once you reach home. 🙂

Ingredients for Chinese Pan-Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

Ingredients for Chinese Pan-Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

What if I can’t find live fish?

You can still use whole fish, even when you can’t find live ones. Be sure to select very fresh fish. It should have clear eyes, shiny scales, and fresh smell of the sea, not fishy or stinky.

Can I use fish fillet instead?

If your grocery store doesn’t sell live fish and the whole fish selection is not great, you can use fish fillet too. In fact, I develop this recipe around fish fillets, though you can definitely use this recipe to prepare whole fish too. 🙂

Please make sure that your fish fillet has firm flesh, and if possible, with skin on so you get to enjoy the contrast between crispy skin and tender flesh.

Feel free to use frozen fish fillets as those can oftentimes have higher quality than the ones already sitting for hours in the meat section.

Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

How to prepare fish fillets so they will be crispy.

First, let’s prepare the fish fillet for pan-frying so you will end up with perfectly crispy pan-fried fish fillets. 🙂

1. Pat dry each fish fillet with really well.

This step is super important, especially if you use thawed frozen fish.

2. Salt, pepper, starch/flour.

Sprinkle each side of the fish fillet with salt and pepper, then dust with corn starch. If you don’t have corn starch and you are not aiming for a gluten-free dish, you can also simply dust the fish fillet with all-purpose flour.

3. Shake off excess starch/flour.

You want to coat your fish well, but not excessively. Too much starch/flour will actually lead to less crispy fish.

Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

Chinese Pan Fried Fish with Soy Sauce.

How to perfectly cook a pan-fried fish fillet.

Once you do all the steps above, your fish fillets are ready to be cooked. Here are the steps to follow to ensure crispy fried fish:

1. Use a heavy pan/skillet.

My preferred choice is a cast-iron skillet, and you really don’t need a non-stick pan to cook a perfect pan-fried fish.

2. Hot pan and cold oil.

Always heat the pan first before adding oil. So what you want to do is to heat the pan until you start seeing thin smoke, then add oil and swirl to coat the pan, then proceed with cooking.

3. Let the fish fillet releases itself from the pan.

Almost 100% of the time, the fish fillets will initially stick to the pan. But, once the surface is cooked and becomes golden brown, the fillets will release itself naturally from the pan.

So have patience and don’t try to move your fish in its early stage. You should at least wait until the edges of the fillet are golden brown before you try nudging it.

Chinese pan-fried fish with soy sauce, using rock fish fillets.

Chinese pan-fried fish with soy sauce, using rock fish fillets.

Sauce for Chinese pan-fried fish

This dish is all about enjoying the fish with as little seasoning ingredients as possible. And you can see that we use only garlic, ginger, and scallions for our herbs/aromatics.

As for the sauce, it cannot get any simpler than this. You will only need three ingredients: water, light soy sauce, and sugar. For most people, that’s practically just soy sauce, right? 🙂

For light soy sauce, I usually either use Pearl River Bridge or Kimlan.

What is a good substitute for light soy sauce?

The best substitute is regular soy sauce, such as Kikkoman soy sauce, preferably reduced-sodium soy sauce as I find the regular version too salty.

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Hup Toh Soh Chinese Walnut Cookies Recipe

Ingredients to prepare hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies).

Any holiday is a great excuse to bake a mountain of cookies, and Chinese New Year is no different. Growing up, my Grandma bakes at least a dozen different cookies, all arranged in pretty jars, to welcome the new year and to greet guests that visit our house during Chinese New Year.

This hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) is a must-have item and make a regular appearance each year. It is very easy to bake these at home, and if you love these cookies, feel free to whip up a batch at any time of the year and not just for CNY. 🙂

Shape hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) cookie dough into round balls, each about 1 teaspoon (10 gram) and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.

Shape hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) cookie dough into round balls, each about 1 teaspoon (10 gram) and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet.

What you need to prepare a batch of hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies)

Ingredients to prepare a batch of hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) are very straightforward and should be really easy to procure.

You will need all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, walnuts (toasted and coarsely chopped), sesame seeds (toasted), unsalted butter, sugar (either regular white sugar, or brown sugar), and eggs.

To get coarsely chopped walnuts, you can either pulse whole toasted walnuts for 2-3 seconds in a food processor, or place whole toasted walnuts in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.

Use a fork and press down the hup toh soh cookie dough to flatten slightly and to create indentation.

Use a fork and press down the hup toh soh cookie dough to flatten slightly and to create indentation.

How to shape hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies)

Hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) are traditionally shaped like a round dish.

First, make 1 teaspoon (~ 10 gram) round balls from the cookie dough and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Then, either grab a spoon, or a fork and press the round ball to flatten. The spoon will give you plain disc-shaped cookies while using a fork, you get disc-shaped cookies with indentation.

Freshy baked hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies).

Freshy baked hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies).

Bake the cookies in two half-sheet pans.

This recipe should yield about 80 pieces of cookies, and the easiest way for me to bake these is using two half-sheet pans.

I arrange the cookies in a 5×8 per baking pan, in other words, 40 cookies per pan.

Also, the cookies will expand slightly, but if you space them apart in your half-sheet pan, they shouldn’t end up touching each other.

Hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies), a must have to celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY).

Hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies), a must have to celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY).

Store fully cooled cookies in airtight container.

Although hup toh soh (Chinese walnut cookies) are super addictive, I strongly suggest you don’t eat the whole batch in one seating. Be sure to store your fully cooled cookies in airtight containers.

If you are preparing these cookies to celebrate Chinese New Year, they should stay fresh at the minimum 2 weeks when stored properly, so all your Chinese New Year guests can enjoy your homemade cookies.

Of course, these cookies are great for gifting too, and I am sure the recipients will be happy to receive your homemade hup toh soh.

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Cakwe – Chinese Crullers Recipe

Ingredients to prepare cakwe/you tiao/Chinese crullers: all-purpose flour, egg, milk, oil, water, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

The biggest drawback to living so far away from home is getting a hold of food I use to take for granted. Take this cakwe – Chinese crullers for instance, there are at least 2 shops within a hundred-meter radius just around my home in Indonesia selling them from early morning till late at night.

No one back home would think it is a necessity to even figure out how to make this. If you say you are frying up a batch of cakwe in your home, people will think that you must have too much time to spare.

Not so when you live halfway across the globe, suddenly there is a desperate need to scour and try every single recipe that you can grab, and tweak and experiment until you get the perfect result! And behold, I finally end up with this cakwe recipe that I am quite proud of 🙂

Step-by-step guide to shaping cakwe/Chinese crullers.

Step-by-step guide to shaping cakwe/Chinese crullers.

What is cakwe/you tiao/Chinese crullers and how to prepare this at home?

Cakwe/Chinese crullers are so common and popular in so many Asian countries. Because of this, it has so many different names: Chinese donuts/doughnuts, Chinese fried dough, Chinese fried bread sticks, and so on. We call them cakwe in Indonesia, which is basically Chinese Hokkien for fried cake!

From the name, you can probably guess that this is basically some sort of dough, shaped into sticks, and deep fried. And you will be 100% correct! 🙂

What will I need to make cakwe/you tiao at home?

You will only need some very basic and very common pantry ingredients to prepare Chinese crullers:

  • all-purpose flour (or bread flour)
  • egg
  • milk
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • oil
  • water

Most cakwe recipe will call for bread flour, but you can get away with using all-purpose flour. If you are familiar with bread making, then you can tell that bread flour will give you a chewier and firmer result, while using all-purpose flour will make the bread softer and tenderer. What I am trying to say is, even if the only flour you are stocking at home is all-purpose, you will still get a good result! In fact, this batch is made with all-purpose flour, and not bread flour.

Glue two strips of dough into one cruller. I use the dull part of a butter knife, but you can use a chopstick too.

Glue two strips of dough into one cruller. I use the dull part of a butter knife, but you can use a chopstick too.

How do you shape cakwe/you tiao/Chinese crullers?

Prepare the dough

Before we can shape our cakwe, we need to prepare the dough by kneading all the ingredients together. The dough should not be sticky at all, and you want to knead until soft. Please start with 3 tablespoons of water and only increase the amount only if the dough is too dry.

Rest the dough

Shape the dough into roughly a rectangular shape, and wrap it with saran plastic and rest in the fridge for 4 hours. You must let the dough rest to relax the gluten. For the best result, I usually rest the dough overnight. Once you are ready to shape your crullers and fry them, you must remove the dough from the fridge and let it return to room temperature before continuing with the rest of the steps.

Shape the dough

Cakwe/Chinese crullers have a very distinct shape. And though it looks complicated, the steps are actually quite easy once we break it down:

  1. Roll the dough into a rectangle. I usually roll it to 12″ long, 6″ wide, with a thickness of 1/8″.
  2. Cut into 14 strips, each 6″ long.
  3. Stack 2 strips on top of one another. So we get a total of 7 stacks.
  4. Glue each stack by pressing the center of the two strips. You can use the dull part of a butter knife or a chopstick. You can refer to the photo below to clarify this particular step. 🙂
Cakwe/You Tiao/Chinese Crullers.

Cakwe/You Tiao/Chinese Crullers.

How do you fry cakwe/you tiao/Chinese crullers?

Chinese crullers are deep-fried dough, so we will need to prepare a pot of oil for deep frying. Traditionally, we deep fry crullers in a wok of at least 13″ diameter. You can also use a frying pan too, but make sure the depth is at least 2″ so you can fill the frying pan with at least 1″ of oil. Here are the steps:

  1. Fill your wok or frying pan with at least 1″ of oil, it is better if you can fill it with 2″ of oil.
  2. Heat the oil on medium heat. The oil is ready once it reaches 200 Celsius (400 Fahrenheit).
  3. Gently hold the two ends of each stack of shaped crullers and pull it slightly to fit the length of your wok/pan. For example, if you use a 10″ diameter frying pan, try to pull the dough to 9″ long. Then carefully, drop the dough into the hot oil.
  4. Use a pair of cooking chopsticks, or a pair of stainless steel tongs, roll the dough continuously for about 30 seconds or until the crullers become golden brown.
    Tips: You can fry two crullers at a time if you start to get the hang of it. But for beginners, stick to frying one piece at a time. 🙂
  5. Remove the fried crullers and set over a wire rack to reduce excess oil.
Cakwe/You Tiao/Chinese Crullers.

Cakwe/You Tiao/Chinese Crullers.

What do you eat with cakwe/you tiao/Chinese crullers?

There are so many ways to enjoy cakwe/Chinese crullers.

In Taiwan, a traditional breakfast is pretty much a combination of Chinese crullers and hot soy milk.

Thinly sliced Chinese crullers are a popular topping for Chinese congee, such as pork congee or fish congee. If you have eaten some congee/porridge from a Chinese dim sum before, you may already know about this.

There is a popular dim sum item called cheong fun that has you tiao/Chinese crullers as its filling. In that case, the crullers are used as an ingredient.

In Indonesia, we also enjoy our bubur ayam (Indonesian chicken congee) with plenty of cakwe/crullers topping.

Served with bak kut teh, a popular Chinese herbal soup in Malaysia and Singapore.

Served with Malaysian/Singaporean rojak buah, which is different from Indonesian rujak buah. I won’t stop you, though, if you want to add some cakwe to your rujak buah. 🙂

Also, people buy these simply to snack on. In Indonesia, there are cakwe sellers that hang around the street corner around the clock so people can drop in and buy several to eat with their afternoon tea or coffee, or as a light snack for supper before going to bed.

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Chinese Six Herbs Pork Rib Soup Recipe

Traditional Chinese soups rely on dried Chinese herbs. There are many Chinese soups where almost everything is made up of dried ingredients and only one type of meat is used like chicken or pork.

Take this 六味汤/lak bi theng/six herbs/six flavors soup for example, the soup is cook with pork and a set of six dried herbs. As you can imagine, as long as you have a stash of Chinese dried ingredients stashed in your pantry, you can very easily prepare a pot of delicious Chinese soup. ♥

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors soup.

Which Chinese dried ingredients do I need to prepare 六味汤/six flavors soup?

There is a set of Chinese herbs that make up a typical six flavors soup. You will need:

  • Chinese yam (怀(淮)山 – huai shan), if you are familiar with Japanese nagaimo, this is basically the dried version of the same yam.
  • lotus seed (莲子 – lian zi)
  • lily bulb (百合 – bai he)
  • fox nut (芡实 – qian shi)
  • Solomon’s seal rhizome (玉竹 – yu zhu), and
  • dried longan (桂圓/龙眼 – gui yuan/long yan)

Optional add-on ingredients

Aside from the stated six ingredients above, some people love adding even more ingredients to create their own signature herbal mix. If you wish, you can add some of the followings into your soup:

  • job’s tear barley (薏米/薏仁 – yi mi/yi ren), also known as hato mugi in Japanese.
  • apricot kernels (南北杏 – nan bei xing), 南/south is the sweet version, and 北/north is the bitter version. I prefer the south version.
  • ginkgo nuts (白果 – bai guo)
  • goji berries (枸杞 – gou qi)
  • red dates/jujubes (红枣 – hong zao)
  • honey dates (蜜枣 – mi zao)
  • ginger slices

How to prepare the dried ingredients?

Prior to using most Chinese dried ingredients, it is best if you can wash each of the ingredients separately to remove dirt, and then soak each ingredient in separate bowls.

I usually soak the ingredients the night before I plan to cook the soup, but if you forget to do so, even a one hour soak is much better than no soaking time.

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Ingredients to prepare 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Six herbs soup (六味汤) = ching po leung (清补涼)

Recently I paid a visit to my neighborhood Chinese grocery store. It is a rather big store and its Chinese herb section is rather complete. As I was trying to replenish my supplies for this soup, I spotted a prepackaged soup called 清补涼- ching po leung, which has almost exactly the same ingredients as my Mom’s typical six herbs soup!

The package is rather small, and it comes with everything I use in my six flavors soup except for dried longan. Instead of dried longan, it has job’s tear barley. When I reached home, I did a bit of research and found out that indeed, ching po leung is another name for six herbs/flavors soup.

So, if you don’t plan to prepare this soup often, or if it’s too much of a hassle to hunt down individual ingredients for this soup, feel free to buy the prepackaged version. You can even buy prepackaged ching po leung soup online.

Ready to be cooked 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Ready to be cooked 六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Sweet version: Six herbs sweet soup (六味糖水)

You can make the sweet version of 六味汤. Basically you will use the exact same set of six dried ingredients, plus your choice of sweeteners (e.g. rock sugar), and any add-ons that you wish. Here is how to do it:

  1. Use the same amount of dried igredients and water as per this recipe.
  2. Boil water and dried ingredients, then cover the pot and simmer until everything is soft and tender. About 2 hours.
  3. Add rock sugar, or other sweetener of your choice. I usually use 100 gram or rock sugar, but do add as much as you need.

The sweet version of this soup can be served hot, at room temperature, or even cold. So this is a nice dessert soup to make year round.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

Other Chinese soups you may want to try

If you love classic Chinese soups like this, you may want to try some of my recipes on traditional Chinese soups.

If you prefer Chinese sweet/dessert soups, you may want to try some of these instead:

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

六味汤/Chinese six herbs/six flavors pork ribs soup.

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Chicken in Chinese Rice Wine Recipe

Ingredients to prepare chicken in Chinese rice wine: chicken, Chinese yellow rice wine, Chinese white rice wine, ginger, red dates, goji berries, Angelica root, and rock candy.

Chicken in Chinese rice wine is a classic Chinese confinement dish that is super easy to make, as long as you can get a hold of the rice wine.

This recipe is passed down to me from my Mom, and hers specifically use two kinds of rice wine, the yellow rice wine (Chinese: huang jiu) and the white rice wine (Chinese: bai jiu) in a two to one ratio.

The requisite old ginger is there, but it also has angelica root, red dates, and goji berries. You just know it is going to taste great with a list of ingredients like that, right? ♥

What are the ingredients to cook chicken in Chinese rice wine?

  • 1 whole free-range chicken (Indonesian: ayam kampung), or 6-8 chicken drumsticks, or 3-4 chicken leg quarters
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 100 gram ginger, preferably old ginger, peeled (optional) and thinly sliced
  • 15 gram red dates/jujube (红枣- hong zao)
  • 10 gram Angelica roots (当归- dang gui)
  • 10 gram goji berries (枸杞- gou qi)
  • 400 ml Chinese yellow rice wine (黄酒- huang jiu)
  • 200 ml Chinese white rice wine (白酒- bai jiu)
  • 50 gram rock sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, omit if your rice wine has salt content in it

Some Chinese yellow rice wine to consider are 糯米酒 (nuo mi jiu), 紹興酒 (shao xing jiu), and 花雕酒 (hua diao jiu).

For Chinese white rice wine, I usually get a bottle of 米酒(mi jiu). I’ve even used Japanese sake instead of Chinese white rice wine and it works beautifully.

If possible, skip the cooking aisle and go to the alcoholic drink section in your Asian market. This should be where you can find all the different drinking wine such as Chinese Shao xing, Japanese sake, and Korean soju.

Any bottle you get from this aisle will be of higher quality than the ones from the cooking aisle. Plus, the drinking grade is almost certainly free of salt, so you can add as much salt as needed. Also, these wine are good for drinking too!

Chicken in Chinese rice wine.

Chicken in Chinese rice wine.

How to cook chicken in Chinese rice wine?

This is a really simple and straightforward dish. Here is my step-by-step:

  1. Heat sesame oil in a pot on medium-high heat and fry ginger until fragrant. About 3 minutes.
  2. Add chicken pieces and cook until no longer pink. About 2 minutes.
  3. Add red dates, Angelica roots, goji berries, yellow rice wine, and white rice wine. Mix well, and bring to a boil.
  4. Season with salt, then turn the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour.
  5. Add rock sugar and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and serve the chicken in immediately.
Chicken in Chinese rice wine.

Chicken in Chinese rice wine.

Traditional Chinese confinement dish

In many Chinese families, a lot of households will start making bottles of homemade rice wine whenever someone in the family is expecting a baby. Once the baby is born, the mother will start her 30 days of confinement period (坐月子- zuo yue zi).

During confinement, the mother is usually expected to stay indoors to recover, to have plenty of rest, and to learn how to take care of her baby. There is a focus on eating plenty of nourishing food too, especially food to recover and heal the body from delivering a baby, and also, food that increases breastmilk.

Most Chinese confinement food has high protein, also most will feature ginger, sesame oil, and rice wine, which is exactly what goes into this chicken in Chinese rice wine dish.

If you are indeed preparing this dish for a new mother, some people advise omitting salt and sugar, but I think it’s such a tiny amount anyway and should be quite fine, but do consult your physician. 🙂

Some other popular Chinese dishes for this period are sesame oil chicken, steamed Chinese herbal chicken, and chicken herbal soup.

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Chinese Sausage and Chicken in Soy Sauce Recipe

Chinese sausage (lap cheong) and chicken in soy sauce.

All cuisines have delicious dishes using pantry staples ingredients. For the Chinese, one such dish is this Chinese sausage and chicken in soy sauce. The main ingredients are chicken thigh, Chinese sausages, and dried shiitake mushrooms.

Most Chinese families usually stock packages of Chinese sausages, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dark soy sauce in their pantry cupboard. So this is an easy and convenient dish to prepare when I don’t have the time to do grocery shopping for fresh ingredients.

Ingredients for Chinese sausage and chicken in soy sauce: Chinese sausage, chicken thigh, dried shiitake, garlic, scallions, dark soy sauce, sugar, white pepper (not shown), and water.

Ingredients for Chinese sausage and chicken in soy sauce: Chinese sausage, chicken thigh, dried shiitake, garlic, scallions, dark soy sauce, sugar, white pepper (not shown), and water.

Ingredients for this chicken dish

To make this dish, we will need Chinese sausages, dried shiitake mushrooms, chicken meat (preferably thigh), garlic, scallions, dark soy sauce, sugar, ground pepper (preferably white pepper), water, and oil.

Chinese sausages

There are several varieties of Chinese sausages. For this dish, we want to use lap cheong (腊肠), a Cantonese style sausage made from pork and pork fat, sweetened and seasoned with rose water, rice wine, and soy sauce.

Chinese sausages are typically sold in plastic packaging. If you are in the US, the easiest and most available Chinese sausages are produced by Kam Yen Jan. You can store the sausages at room temperature when they are still vacuum-sealed in its original packaging, but please refrigerate any leftover once you open the packaging.

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Although you can use fresh shiitake mushrooms for this dish, I highly suggest sticking to dried shiitake mushrooms. I find that the flavor is at least 10x better when using dried mushrooms compared to fresh ones.

Dark soy sauce

Chinese dark soy sauce is different than regular soy sauce or Chinese light soy sauce. It has a thicker body, very dark color, and a slightly sweeter taste compared to regular/light soy sauce.

The main function of a dark soy sauce is to impart dark color to finished dishes, which you can’t achieve with a regular/light soy sauce.

If you don’t stock dark soy sauce in your pantry, you can still make this dish with your regular soy sauce or light soy sauce. The dish will still be tasty, it just won’t have that dark color, which should be fine.

(Left) Steam sausages for 5 minutes. (Right) Cut steamed sausages into thin slices diagonally.

(Left) Steam sausages for 5 minutes. (Right) Cut steamed sausages into thin slices diagonally.

Preparing Chinese sausage and dried shiitake mushrooms

How to prepare Chinese sausages

Please prepare a steamer over medium-high heat. Once the water is boiling and the steamer has produced plenty of steam, steam the sausages in a steamer proof dish for 5 minutes. Remove from the steamer and then cut the steamed sausages into thin slices diagonally.

How to prepare dried shiitake mushrooms

Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in cold water overnight until soft and rehydrated. Gently squeeze the soaked mushrooms. Use a sharp knife to cut and discard the stems, then cut the mushroom caps into thin slices. Reserve the soaking liquid for the sauce.

(1) Sauté garlic. (2) Add sausages. (3) Add chicken and shiitake. (4) Add dark soy sauce, water, shiitake soaking water, sugar, and white pepper.

(1) Sauté garlic. (2) Add sausages. (3) Add chicken and shiitake. (4) Add dark soy sauce, water, shiitake soaking water, sugar, and white pepper.

Step-by-step to cooking this chicken dish

First, prepare the sauce by mixing 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup shiitake soaking liquid, 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground white pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Sauté garlic for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Add Chinese sausages and cook for 30 seconds, then add chicken and mushrooms and cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Pour the sauce into the wok and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce has reduced.

Turn off the heat and stir in half of the scallions and mix well.

Transfer the dish to a serving plate. Garnish with the remaining scallions. Serve with steamed white rice.

Toss in half of the thinly sliced scallions at the end of the cooking time.

Toss in half of the thinly sliced scallions at the end of the cooking time.

Other dishes using Chinese sausages

If you love this dish and want to use Chinese sausages to prepare other dishes, you can try the following recipes:

You can add thinly sliced Chinese sausage when cooking fried rice or fried noodles. I usually add about 1/4 sausage per serving when I prepare fried rice/noodles on top of the usual mixture of thinly sliced meat (chicken/beef/pork), eggs, and vegetables (mung bean sprouts, bok choy/yu choy, chives, and scallions).

Transfer the finished dish into a serving plate and garnish with the remaining thinly sliced scallions.

Transfer the finished dish into a serving plate and garnish with the remaining thinly sliced scallions.

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Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup Recipe

Always serve Chinese chicken herbal soup hot.

My Mom insists that we drink a bowl of Chinese herbal soup once a week, no more and no less.

Each week she diligently prepares a different herbal soup for us. This ritual is something that I truly miss once I live apart from my family, and I wish I had shown more appreciation of how special and meaningful this has been in my upbringing.

Among the many Chinese soup recipes that my Mom prepares, I would pick this Chinese chicken herbal soup as THE ultimate herbal soup.

The smell that fills the house whenever this soup is slowly simmering away on a stove reminds me of a Chinese herbal store, really nostalgic and somehow just feels the healthiest.

Ingredients for Chinese chicken herbal soup: cornish hen, red dates, goji berries, angelica root, astragalus root, codonopsis root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, and American ginseng.

Ingredients for Chinese chicken herbal soup: cornish hen, red dates, goji berries, angelica root, astragalus root, codonopsis root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, and American ginseng.

Chinese herbs for the herbal soup

Each family has a different mix of Chinese herbs to prepare this soup, but these are the ingredients that I learn from my Mom, and she from my Grandma:

Chinese herbs for chicken herbal soup: red dates, goji berries, angelica root, astragalus root, codonopsis root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, and American ginseng.

Chinese herbs for chicken herbal soup: red dates, goji berries, angelica root, astragalus root, codonopsis root, Sichuan lovage rhizome, and American ginseng.

I admit it can be really hard to gather all these different Chinese herbs unless you live in a city where you have easy access to Chinatown, or bigger Chinese groceries the likes of 99 Ranch or Marina on the West Coast.

There are several photos in this post with a clear shot on the individual ingredient. Hopefully, they can help you find the necessary herbs. You can always show the photos to a store helper in Chinatown or a Chinese grocery store and get them to help you locate the herbs.

I also provide Amazon links to each ingredient in case buying online is the easiest option.

The recipe from my Mom has two types of ginseng: American (yellow) ginseng and Korean (red) ginseng. It is not necessary to use both ginsengs in the soup. You can use 100% American ginseng or 100% Korean ginseng, but please increase the amount when you do so.

Boil chicken, Chinese herbs, salt, and water in a pot. Simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

Boil chicken, Chinese herbs, salt, and water in a pot. Simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is tender.

Is there an easy prepackaged version for this chicken soup herb mix?

I’ve searched high and low for a prepackaged herbal mix that contains the exact herbs my family has been using, and I haven’t been able to do that. The closest that I have found so far is this chicken soup mix base. This particular mix has:

  • red dates
  • goji berries
  • angelica root/dang gui
  • astragalus/huang qi
  • codonopsis root/dang shen
  • Chinese yam
  • shiitake

So the first 5 out of 7 listed ingredients are the same as my first 5 out of 8 ingredients. Instead of Sichuan lovage/chuan xiong and ginseng, this particular package includes Chinese yam and shiitake mushroom instead.

You will still end up with a great soup even using this convenient prepackaged mix, but it just won’t be the same as my herbal mix. 🙂

Chinese chicken herbal soup hot.

Chinese chicken herbal soup hot.

Which chicken is suitable for Chinese soup

In Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, we love using ayam kampung (free-range chicken) to prepare Chinese chicken soup.

And for special occasions, like for Chinese New Year, my Mom would sometimes use black silkie chicken. You may see silkie chicken sold in your Asian market, they have black skin, and black meat, though if you have ever seen a life silkie chicken, they look very fluffy and super cute. 🙂

Another chicken variety that I have tried is Cornish chicken, which is also a good choice to prepare all kinds of Chinese chicken soup.

Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup

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