Tag Archives: Herbal

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 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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