Thursday, January 5, 2012

Abalone Chicken Soup

I have to take a break from my Perth trip recap series as my main computer died on me the other day.  It's is currently at the shop now.  Let's hope it is fixable and won't cost an arm and a leg... 

However, I still feel like sharing this awesome soup that I made the other night.  It was extremely easy and satisfying in a cold winter night.  This is a clay pot soup, which is quite different to the normal boiled soup since this one is double boiled.  Most Chinese would say that this is a better way to make soup since the flavor and nutritions are more condensed, I just think that it taste better and I didn't have to keep checking the kitchen - I just set the timer and let the machine does the rest!

you should not have to add any seasoning

The original recipe came from here. See below for the translation:

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (I only used half since I have a small clay pot - also, I read later from other Chinese websites that it is better to use a special type of chicken - 竹絲雞.  This chicken has white feathers and black skin.  Rumor has it that this chicken tastes better in soups and has better nutrition value.  However, it would be very hard to get if you don't live in China or a large Chinese society.)  

2 dried abalone (dried abalone is extremely expensive, especially after the Japanese tsunami in 2011.   The ones I used in my soup is kinda an impulse purchase at the market.  They were very small and yet it still costs me MOP200 - USD25 - for 6.  The ones used in the original recipe are actually quite large so they would be even more expensive.)

a fistful of wolfberry (according to the Chinese wiki, wolfberry reduces blood sugar, anti-fatty liver effectsand provided resistance to atherosclerosis.  As I am reading what each ingredient does, it reminded me a story my American co-worker said - he went to a restaurant with a table of Chinese and when they advise him on each dish, the Chinese would say, "it's enhances the man's body and keeps the woman young".  This is pretty much true about most Chinese dishes... haha!)

dried scallops (I used 3 medium sized ones - it enhances the flavor of the soup.)

5 slices of ginger (In winter, I like to add more ginger since it's supposed to make you warmer)

picture is from the website I based this soup on
(top left to right: dried abalone, sliced abalone, chicken,
sliced ginger, wolf-berry, dried scallops)

Directions:

1.  Pre-wash and soak dried abalone overnight until soft. Save the water. Rub the sides of the abalone and make sure it is cleaned.  Cut the hard portions near the abalone's "mouth".  Also soak the dried scallops.

2a.  Put #1 in a clay pot, add water just covering the abalone, boil in low flames until boiled.  Turn off the heat and cover until the water turns cold. Wash the abalone.  (only do this step if you are using big abalone... I skipped since mine are small.)

2b.  Boil a separate pot of water.  Add the ginger slices and a little cooking wine.  Add the abalone.  Cook in low flames for 5 minutes after the water is boiled.  Take out the abalone and sliced.  (again, only do this step if you are using big abalone... I skipped since mine are small.)

3.  Wash and quarter the chicken (I sliced off the wing and the leg for other dishes and ripped the skin off so I actually only used the body.)  Boil just enough water and add the chicken to cook for ~5 minutes.  This is too get the impurities out of the chicken.  Wash the chicken under cold running water.  Make sure you get rid of all the blood lumps and as much fat as you can.

4a. Add all the ingredients into the clay pot.  Boil at high flame and lowered to low flame to boil for 6-8 hours.  Turn off the heat and let it cook for another 3 hours.  Cook again in low flames until the abalone is soft (another 4-6 hours).

4b. As you can see, 4a is very uneconomical, I used an electronic slow cooker for this.  If you don't have this devise, I guess you can use a pressure cooker as well.  This is another reason why I don't use the larger dried abalone.  Add all the ingredients into the clay pot.  Add water (I fill the pot up about 3/4 full).  Fill the steamer with water to the advised water level.  Set the timer for 3 hours.  Ready to serve!

the secret weapon!

PS. most people tossed the chicken and just drink the soup (I discarded everything except the abalones).   That's why I saved the wing and the leg for something else... you just want to flavor of the chicken in the soup...  Below is how I used the wing and the leg :)

The cooking wine my mom had at home smelled really good... so I added more than I normally do when I marinate the chicken - the end result is fantastic!  It almost taste like Drunken Chicken... Next time I need to ask her where she got this cooking wine!  (I posted this recipe before so you can just click here.)

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