Birds 22: Tang’s Chicken (唐雞)

“Take a chicken weighing either two jin or three jin. If it weighs two jin, use one rice bowl of wine and three rice bowls of water. If it weighs three jin, increase the quantity of wine and water accordingly. Cut the chicken into large pieces, then heat up two liang of vegetable oil. Fry the chicken in the oil over high heat until done. Next, boil the fried chicken in the wine for ten to twenty moments, then add the water and cook for another two to three hundred moments. Finally, add one wine cup of autumn sauce. When serving add one qian of white sugar. This is a recipe from the house of Tang Jinghan.”


Unbreaded fried chicken, Hongkong style. (Credit: Geographer)

This is more or less an unbreaded fried chicken that has been red cooked. As for why Yuan Mei decided this was worth writing down in such detail, one can only guess…

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.


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 had been removed. 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.


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]


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.