Today, my coworker asked me when would I post receipes for Chinese comfort food. I was like “hm.. do we have chinky comfort food?” LOL. He was referring to dishes like Lop Cheung (Chinese cured meat sausage), Jing Yuk Beng (Steamed Minced Pork) etc. Ya, those are good stuff. And they also fit my category of the poor man’s food cos they are totally non-fancy family dishes. To me, I would immediately think of my mom’s Steamed Chinese Chicken for comfort food. This is one of the most common Chinese dishes. If you have ever been invited to any Chinese banquet, like someone’s wedding, or birthday, Steamed Chinese Chicken would be one of the dishes, another one would be Steamed Fish. Maybe I’ll post a recipe for Steamed Fish later. Mom made Steamed Chicken probably once a week. She used a wok to steam it. When it was done, she put the cooked chicken on a round butcher block. She put a newspaper on the floor, then lay the butcher block on it. She grabbed her Chinese cleaver, and cut the chicken in halves, and then raised the cleaver high in the air, and dropped it quickly to chop each piece. The chopping was easier to watch than done. Mom asked me a few times to cut the chicken when she was busy. I tried to imitate her, but it would take me 2 or 3 cuts to separate each piece. If I don’t get it in the first cut, then the second cut may not land in the same spot, which you can imagine some pieces were bigger, some smaller, some had a lot of broken bones…. These days, I would make a whole chicken sometimes, but I learned how to use a pair of scissors instead. Here is a picture of the Steamed Chinese Chicken made by mom when I visited her last time.
- A whole chicken, about 3 or 4 pounds. You can substitute this with legs and thighs, or even breast meat.
- Scallion, 3 stems
- Ginger root, a small piece, about the length of your pinky
- Sesame oil, 1 tsp
- Cooking oil, 1 Tbsp
- Prepare the dipping sauce ingredients: Cut the ginger root into thin slices first, then thin strips, then very finely pieces like puree. Put it in a small bowl/plate.
- Cut scallions into small pieces, and then chop it finely. Add it to the ginger root. Put it aside.
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly, get rid of the internal organ stuff. Use a few paper towel to pat it dry.
- This step is optional. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the chicken. Use your hands to rub it evenly on the skin.
- If you are using a wok, put a metal or bamboo steamer stand in the wok. Add water to about the level of the stand. If you are using a steamer, make sure the steamer is big enough to fit the whole chicken. Otherwise, cut the chicken in halves before steaming.
- When the water boils, put the chicken in a plate and then onto the steamer stand if you are using a wok. If you are using a steamer, put the chicken in the basket. Cover the wok/steamer with a lid. If you don’t have a lid, you can use aluminium foil and cover it tight.
- Steam for about 30 mins on high heat. On the side, boil a pot of hot water just in case you need to add more water to the steamer/wok if the water level is getting low. Check the water level after 15 mins.
- Carefully remove the chicken from the wok/steamer. It would be steaming hot! Let the chicken sit for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Optional: Use a brush and brush a teaspoon of sesame oil on the chicken.
- When the chicken cools down a little bit, you can cut it into pieces. If you don’t have much experience using a Chinese cleaver to cut meat with bones, I would recommend you to use a pair of kitchen scissors instead. It’s much easier with the scissors.
- To prepare for the dipping sauce, heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil in a frying pan. Use medium heat. When you see steams/smoke, turn off the heat. Add the ginger root and scallion mixture to the pan, you should hear a sizzling sound. Add a generous pinch of salt to the mixture. Put it in a dipping sauce bowl/plate.