Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Black Chicken Soup

Am currently experiencing an unusual yearning for Chinese-style soups, and you, my poor reader, will just have to 'sup' with me!

Simmered black chicken soup with the above Chinese traditional herbs is one of my family's hot favourites on many a weekend, and even on weekday-nights (with the help of a crockpot, happily purring away for the whole day). The dark brown soup may look threateningly foul but in reality, far from it being evil-smelling or bitter-tasting, the soup is flavorful and tinged with sweetness from the addition of dried red dates and medlar seeds.

After imbibing a bowl or more of this soup, I always feel that I'm a little bit closer to achieving overall physical well-being and balancing out the yin and yang within (must be all that dogmatic indoctrination from young while under mum's care).

The traditional herbs and roots in the picture (with their supposed health benefits), starting clockwise from the red dates right at the base of the bowl are:
  • Chinese red dates (hong-cho, in Cantonese) - nourishes the stomach, spleen and blood
  • Dang Shen - benefits the lungs and helps in blood circulation
  • what I believed to be Chuan Qiong - a sliced root to nourish the blood
  • Medlar Seeds (kei-chi, in Cantonese) - improves vision (personally, I think they add sparkle to the eyes), nourishes the lung and kidneys and are believed to be good for diabetes
  • Huai Shan (wai-san, in Cantonese) - these are another form of root slices, chalk-white in color, which are believed to be good for the kidneys and lungs
And lastly, we mustn't forget the black-meat chicken, which is supposedly healthier than white-meat chicken as the former has less fat and lower calories but higher content of protein. Just one last nugget of info - black-meat chickens have black to dark grey flesh with black skin but are actually covered in white feathers (somewhat like the black and white minstrel shows of old). So far, I have only seen these chickens being used in Chinese-style brewed or double-boiled soups, and have yet to discover them in any other cuisine from other nationalities or cultures.


Blogger Clare Eats said...

I just bought a packet of chinese herbs for soup, but I am alittle scared as I have no idea where to start! HELP!!!!

9/08/2005 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

Hi clare - chinese herbs have varying functions, do yours come with any instructions from the vendor? If not, generally, most traditional herbs are boiled together with some form of meat (whether chicken, pork ribs or soft pork bones).
(1) Boil a pot of water and scald your meat in the boiling water for a few minutes - then remove meat and throw away the water (this is to reduce the scum and oiliness in the soup).
(2) Reboil another pot of water (based on 1 cup of water per person plus another 1 to 2 cups for boiling off), add the meat and the chinese herbs (which have been washed and rinsed).
(3) Once water has boiled, you can reduce to lowest heat and let soup simmer for one and a half to 2 hours, keep watch from time to time to ensure that your soup has not totally boiled off/evaporated.
(4) Just before serving, you can add salt to taste (never add salt during the simmering process).
Hope the above is helpful to you.

9/08/2005 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Ok I am going to try this one and see if it is as good as you say. If I don't mess it up trying. Thanks!

9/09/2005 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi dave, do let me know the outcome of your soup-brewing adventure. :)

9/09/2005 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

Ha! i just dump the whole herbs and chicken into a pot over charcoal fire for the extra oomph flavour. However, i do skim occasionally.

Lovely soup ! miss my mum now.

9/10/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi foodcrazee - now that's nostalgia for me, I haven't seen a charcoal stove since I was young (really young!)...

9/10/2005 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Clare Eats said...

That is fantastic =)
no it was a soup packet... a ginseng one....... I was trying to go with the flow...... and I have always *wanted* to make some

Thanks so much

9/10/2005 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger J said...

hi cath, this sounds like just the way my granny makes hers...true comfort food, really nourishing stuff on every level...

9/11/2005 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger Skrat said...

Hi eatzcath,
just reading your current and previous post on traditional soups, i couldnt agree more with you! It is my ultimate comfort food when im feeling under the weather. Awesome job on the black chicken soup.....looks really hearbal and does goody things to my system!

9/12/2005 04:02:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi skrat, thanks for your kind words, and yes, I love love love traditional chinese soups, am currently trying to learn as much as possible about the benefits of all these wonderful chinese herbs.

9/12/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

do let us know abt CHINESE herbs. I know nuts abt them. Just pop into a chinese medicine shop and tell them i need herbs for this and that. Pack, paid and back to home to cook those soup. *chuckle*

9/13/2005 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi foodcrazee - I still do that sometimes, but am learning slowly but surely and will definitely share along the way :p

9/13/2005 10:52:00 PM  

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