Birds 33: Squab Eggs (鴿蛋)

“Braised squab eggs is prepared in the same manner as braised chicken gizzards. They can also be pan-fried and served with a bit of vinegar.”

鴿蛋
煨鴿蛋法與煨雞腎同。或煎食亦可,加微醋亦可。

pigeon_eggs
Pigeon eggs. Calling it “squab eggs” somehow makes it sound more edible. If you want to sound fancy, you can call them “dove eggs”. (Credit: Sanjay Acharya)

I accidentally reposted the previous section, which was first posted way back a few months ago. This is the next installment, continuing from the section on Squab.

Birds 7: Stir-Fried Chicken Slices (炒雞片)

“Take boneless chicken breasts and chop them into thin slices. Mix the slices with mung bean starch, sesame oil, and autumn sauce. Next add thickening starch and mix in egg whites. Just before stir-frying, add to it soy sauce, soy pickled ginger, and chopped green onion. One must use a burning hot flame to stir-fry the dish. Only four liang of chicken should be cooked per serving so that the heat can properly and rapidly cook the meat.”

羽族單::炒雞片
用雞脯肉去皮,斬成薄片。用豆粉、麻油、秋油拌之,芡粉調之,雞蛋清拌。臨下鍋加醬、瓜薑、蔥花末。須用極旺之火炒。一盤不過四兩,火氣才透。

chicken_and_almonds_stir_fry
Yet another chicken stir-fry dish (Credit: SpaceMonkey~commonswiki )

This a recipe one could expect to find in an any modern Chinese cookbook. The interesting thing here is that the seasoning/marinade used here includes “doufen”(豆粉), which I translated as “mung bean starch” or alternatively can also be interpreted as “mung bean noodles”.

In both cases, adding either during marinating process seems somewhat strange since the former would give a rather gelatinous textured coating and the latter would mean oddly marinating the meat with bits of noodles. Still, I went with the former since it seems more plausible in my opinion. However, given that hundreds of year went between now and then, your guess is as good as mine.

Birds 32: Squab (鴿子)

“Squab braised with good dry-cured ham is excellent. One can also prepare it without the ham.”

鴿子
鴿子加好火腿同煨,甚佳。不用火腿亦可。

hk_aberdeen_e69db1e58b9de98193_tung_sing_road_e5be97e8a898e78792e88798e9a3afe5ba97_tak_kee_rice_restaurant_nov-2012_e4b9b3e9b4bfe88289_squab
Tasty soy braised squab, prepared in a manner similar to this recipe. (Credit: Tsengawinlim)

Basically one can use any of the birds in genus Columba, which includes all species of doves and pigeons. The word squab is used to refer to pigeons bred for food or used for food, though it typically also implies a younger and tenderer bird.

Birds 31: Chicken Braised with Mushroom (bis)

“Take a jin of chicken, a jin of sweet wine, three qian of salt, four qian of rock sugar, and fresh mushrooms free of growing mold. Braise everything over a gentle flame for a period of two incense sticks until done. Don’t not add any water, and cook the chicken until eighty percent done before adding the mushrooms.”

蘑菇煨雞
雞肉一斤,甜酒一斤,鹽三錢,冰糖四錢,蘑菇用新鮮不黴者,文火煨兩枝線香為度。不可用水,先煨雞八分熟,再下蘑菇。

schopftintling-coprinus-comatus
The shaggy mane mushroom, one of the possible mushrooms to use for this/these recipe(s) (Credit: H. Krisp)

This a very similar recipe compared to the previous recipe with the exact same name for “chicken with mushrooms”. This makes one wonder if Yuan Mei was unintentionally repeating himself. Or it this is not the case, perhaps Yuan Mei just did not remember to combine the two similar recipes together? Or perhaps he forgot that he already wrote something about chicken with mushrooms?

In any case, his Qing dynasty editors (if he had any) missed this.

Birds 30: Red Simmered Chicken (赤燉肉雞)

“To make red simmered chicken, first wash and clean out the bird well. For each jin of chicken, use twelve liang of good wine, two qian and five fen of salt, four qian of rock sugar, and finely ground cinnamon together in a clay pot. Braise it over a gentle charcoal fire. If the wine has been simmered till dry but the chicken is still not soft, add a tea cup of boiling water for each jin of chicken.”

赤燉肉雞
赤燉肉雞,洗切淨,每一斤用好酒十二兩、鹽二錢五分、冰糖四錢,研酌加桂皮,同入砂鍋中,文炭火煨之。倘酒將乾,雞肉尚未爛,每斤酌加清開水一茶杯。

cinnamon_variaties_-_robin
For braising or simmering in soy dishes , like the above soy-braised chicken, it’s better to use C. cassia (left) or C. burmanii (middle left) due to their more assertive flavours. The two on the right appear to be varieties of C. verum, or “true cinnamon” (whatever “true” is supposed to mean). The latter are probably better used in other recipes, like desserts and other sweet whatnots. (Credit: FotoosVanRobin)

Think of this as yet another brownish-red coloured soy-braised chicken.

But with cinnamon.

Wow.

Birds 29: Five Ways of Cooking Pheasant (野雞五法)

“Pull the breast meat off a pheasant[1] and season well with light soy sauce. Wrap the breast meat in a sheet of caul-fat and fry it in a flat-bottomed iron pot. The meat can be either wrapped as flat squares or as rolls.[2] This is one method. One can also slice the pheasant meat and stir-fry with seasonings, or do so with its diced breast meat. The whole pheasant can also be braised in the manner for the domestic chicken. Another method is to first fry the meat in oil, then pull it apart into thin shreds, toss it with wine, autumn sauce, vinegar, and celery together as a cold dish.

Finally, one can also serve the raw meat sliced to be cooked in a hot pot and eaten immediately when done.[3] The problem with this latter method is that when the meat is still tender it still lacks flavour, but by the time the flavour has infused the meat it is already too tough.”

野雞五法
野雞披胸肉,清醬郁過,以網油包,放鐵奩上燒之。作方片可,作卷子亦可,此一法也。切片加作料炒,一法也。取胸肉作丁,一法也。當家雞 整煨,一法也。先用油灼拆絲,加酒、秋油、醋,同芹菜冷拌,一法也。生片其肉,入火鍋中,登時便吃,亦一法也。其弊在肉嫩則味不入,味入則肉又老。

phasianus_colchicus_torquatus2c_taipingxi_0
The common pheasant, a close cousin of the domestic chicken and sometimes referred in Chinese as “wild chicken”. (Credit: Honan4108)

Doing the comments footnotes this time since it presents the concepts more clearly. That and I’m being lazy today:

[1]: The Chinese phrase for pheasant is “wild chicken”. This makes sense and is quite an accurate observation since a domesticated pheasant is very similar to the modern chicken in taste and texture and they are of the same family Phasianidae. In fact, genetic studies on the modern chicken pins their closest wild relative as the wild red junglefowl with some other wild pheasant relatives (green and grey junglefowl) mixed in.

[2]: Compare this preparation with Yuan Mei’s immitation pheasant recipe and the modern Taiwanese “Chicken rolls”.

[3]: We can see from this that Yuan Mei is not completely adverse to the hotpot after all (See previous section on Chafing dishes), though he is still critical of this class of cooking techniques. I wonder if this aversion is rooted in prejudice since it is one of those techniques favoured by the Mongolian and Western Asian peoples.

Birds 28: Chicken Eggs (雞蛋)

“Break the chicken eggs into a bowl and beat it with chopsticks a thousand times, then steam them until tender. Eggs immediately becomes old and tough when cooked, but with prolonged and continuous cooking they become tender again. Those with tea leaves should be cooked for a period of two sticks of incense. To cook a hundred eggs, use two liang of salt. For fifty eggs use five qian. One can also braise them with soy sauce. Other methods of preparation include pan-frying and stir-frying. Eggs steamed with shredded finch is also excellent.”

雞蛋
雞蛋去殼放碗中,將竹箸打一千回蒸之,絕嫩。凡蛋一煮而老,一千煮而反嫩。加茶葉煮者,以兩炷香為度。蛋一百,用鹽一兩;五十,用鹽五錢。加醬煨亦可。其他則或煎或炒俱可。斬碎黃雀蒸之亦佳。

egg_colours
Egg x 3 (Credit: Timothy Titus)

Over and over again, we see Yuan Mei’s standard for “tender” is quite different from our present standards. To me, an egg done over-easy or even a hardboiled egg can scarcely be call tough. That is, unless you’re lacking teeth, which may or may not be the case with our esteemed scholar.
As for this section, it briefly describes six ways of preparing eggs, namely: steamed, boiled with salt, braised in soy sauce, pan-fried, stir-fried, and finally steamed with a species of finch known as the Eurasian siskin (Spinus spinus). All in all, pretty standard stuff for cooking eggs in Chinese cuisine, with the more unusual one being last method, which uses a very cute but also apparently very tasty ingredient.