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 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 26: Zaoji (糟雞)

“The technique for making rice lees chicken is the same as that for making zaorou.”

糟雞
糟雞法,與糟肉同。

e7b485e7b39fe88289
Fried zaorou. From this, we can assume that fried zaoji, made from chicken, looks like fried chicken. (Credit: 施雅敏)

As Yuan Mei says, this chicken is made in the same manner as zaorou.

I’m doing two postings this week because this one is a bit short.

Birds 25: Shredded Chicken (雞絲)

Pull the meat of chicken into shreds and toss it with autumn sauce, ground mustard, and vinegar. This is a Hangzhou dish. One can also add bamboo shoots and celery to the dish. Another method is to stir-fry the shredded chicken with shredded bamboo shoots, autumn sauce, and wine. Use cooked chicken for the former “tossed” method and raw chicken for the latter stir-fried method.

雞絲
拆雞為絲,秋油、芥末、醋拌之。此杭州菜也。加筍加芹俱可。用筍絲、秋油、酒炒之亦可。拌者用熟雞,炒者用生雞。

bc3ban_thang
Shredded chicken goes great with anything and in anything. Salads, stir-fries, Vietnamese noodle soups…it’s a long list. (Credit: Nguyễn Thanh Quang)

Here Yuan Mei presents two quite typical home-styled recipes. My preference is for the first one, which is almost like a meat salad dish with a mustard vinaigrette, it’s similar to something I actually make quite often at home.

As for stir-frying, I prefer shredded pork to chicken since it has more of a firm texture that one can bite into. For whatever reason, I feel it’s more “correct” to use something with firmer textures with techniques such as stir-frying that have more assertive flavors.

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.”

唐雞
雞一隻,或二斤,或三斤,如用二斤者,用酒一飯碗、水三飯碗;用三斤者,酌添。先將雞切塊,用菜油二兩,候滾熟,爆雞要透;先用酒滾一二十滾,再水煮約二三百滾;用秋油一酒杯;起鍋時加白糖一錢。唐靜涵家法也。

hk_fried_chicken_leg
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.

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 had been removed. Otherwise, this is more or less like another braised chicken dish.