Birds 21: Jiang’s Chicken (蔣雞)

Take a young chicken and season it with four qian of salt, a spoon of soy sauce, half a tea cup of aged wine, and three large slices of ginger. Place it in a claypot, steam it separated from water until soft, and then remove its bones. Do not add any water to the chicken when cooking. This is a recipe from the household of Census Officer Jiang.

蔣雞
童子雞一隻,用鹽四錢、醬油一匙、老酒半茶杯、薑三大片,放砂鍋內,隔水蒸爛,去骨,不用水。蔣御史家法也。

forms_of_the_5th_china_population_census
Chinese census forms, censored. (Credit: edouardlicn)

An interesting recipe in the sense that the chicken is deboned after being cooked, with the bird still whole after all its bones are gone. Otherwise, this is more or less like another braised chicken dish.

Birds 20: Braised Chicken (鹵雞)

Take a entire[1] chicken and stuff its body cavity with thirty stalks of green onion and two qian of fennel seeds. Use one jin of wine and half a small cup of autumn sauce and boil the chicken for one incense stick’s time. Next add one jin of water and two liang of rendered lard and braise everything together.[2] When the chicken is done, skim the fat off the cooking liquid. Be sure to use boiled water when braising. When the cooking liquid has been reduced down to a rice bowl full of thickened glaze, remove the chicken from the pot. The chicken can be served pulled apart by hand or sliced thinly with a knife and then dressed with the glaze.

鹵雞
囫圇雞一隻,肚內塞蔥三十條、茴香二錢,用酒一斤。秋油一小杯半,先滾一枝香,加水一斤、脂油二兩,一齊同煨;待雞熟,取出脂油。水要用熟水,收濃鹵一飯碗才取起;或拆碎,或薄刀片之,仍以原鹵拌食。

soy_sauce_chicken
Soy braised chicken (Credit: Dennis Wong)

Again, nothing to say about this recipe than a few points. I think from now on I’m going to say things in this footnote format if I don’t have anything more substantial to say.

  1. I’ve translated 囫圇 (hulun) as “entire”, as in no guts and feathers but with everything else remaining. The term also has this idea of coarseness from a whole unprocessed item.
  2. A hour to cook chicken is already pretty long. And why add more water? Where chicken that tough in Yuan Mei’s day? Either that or it may be a continuation of Yuan Mei liking everything cooked to falling apart.

Birds 19: Chicken Steamed with Huangqi for Curing Tuberculosis (黃芪蒸雞治瘵)

Take a chicken that is still too young to lay eggs[1] and slaughter it. Do not rinse it with water. Remove the chicken’s innards and stuff its cavity with one liang of Huangqi.[2] Place the chicken on a wok with a rack made of chopsticks to steam. Cover the wok and seal it well. When the chicken is done remove it from the wok. The collected juices from the chicken is unctuous and savoury, and can be used to treat weakness and fatigue resulting from the disease.[3]

黃芪蒸雞治瘵
取童雞未曾生蛋者殺之,不見水,取出肚臟,塞黃芪一兩,架箸放鍋內蒸之,四面封口,熟時取出。鹵濃而鮮,可療弱症。

astragalus_membranaceus
Huangqi (黃芪) one of the many many herbs used in Traditional Chinese medicine (Credit: Doronenko)

Going to do this post in footnote format since I don’t have much to say here. That and I’m still jet-lagged from the 12 hr time difference and my head isn’t completely here:

  1. The terms used to describe chicken of different ages are a bit confusing. I’m thinking the “infant chickens” (雛雞) are younger than “children chickens” (童雞) described here, which is in turn younger than “tender chicken” (嫩雞).
  2. Astragalus propinquus : use only the root portions.
  3. The term”弱症” refers to the weakness resulting from disease. However if you google the term is you’ll get a whole bunch of Chinese ads on pseudoscientific cures for “weak sperm disease”. Sorta interesting.

Birds 18: Cluster of Pearls (珍珠團)

“Chop cooked chicken breast into small morsels the size of soybeans and toss evenly with light soy sauce and and wine. Roll the chicken morsels in dry flour until well coated then stir-fry them in a wok using vegetable oil.”

珍珠團
熟雞脯子切黃豆大塊,清醬、酒拌勻,用乾麵滾滿,入鍋炒。炒用素油。

bowl_of_pearls_by_ai_weiwei
Ai Weiwei’s giant bowl of pearls. (Credit: Pittigrilli)

A cluster of pearls served to you in a bowl…that definitely sounds better than “pan-fried chicken niblets”.

More poetic at the very least.

Birds 17: Seared Eight Pieces (灼八塊)

“Take a tender chicken and chop it into eight pieces. Fry them lightly in oil until cooked. Pour away the oil then add one cup of light soy sauce and half a jin of wine of to the chicken. Braise it until done and plate immediately. Do not use water in cooking and cook using a strong flame.”

灼八塊
嫩雞一隻,斬八塊,滾油炮透,去油,加清醬一杯、酒半斤,煨熟便起,不用水,用武火。

kolkata_chilli_chicken
Fried and braised “Kolkata Chilli Chicken”. Not the same recipe, but the technique is similar enough. (Credit: TanBanMi)

Not sure how a fried and braise chicken can count as “seared”. But then again I don’t name this dish, I just translate them.