Mother's Day is just a few days away and the inevitable question pops up every year.
"What should I do for my mum this year?"
Before going wild with ideas or witnessing a dip in my bank account, I curled up on the same spot of my couch in my usual oversized tee and recalled my mum's love language the night before.
Out of all the love languages, the most dominant language for her is Acts of Service. Yes, that's it! "Actions speak louder than words" means a lot to her, especially for a homemaker who is swamped by daily responsibilities as a caregiver to my poh poh (granny) whilst running errands to keep the home functioning smoothly no matter rain or shine. This tough lady needs a break for a day. Hence, doing something like taking over the her role to cook a meal for the family will simply express my appreciation and love to her on Mother's Day.
I grew up assisting her in our narrow, long kitchen that can accommodate only three people in between the stove and kitchen counter. Four is definitely a crowd. Many times, the unfortunate fourth member would be chased out for being a hindrance, hahaha. Mummy Chow and I would stand back to back, where I learnt the different techniques of handling poultry and vegetables, and passed her the specific ingredients she asked for while she was cooking behind me. After years of cooking sessions, I am now independent to prepare a decent meal and master the flavours in some of her signature dishes! Hoorayyyyy~~~
As positive as I am feeling today, I wanted to surprise and prove to Mummy Chow that her girl is competent to cook and gain her shifu's acknowledgement. Earlier, I've prepared her favourite fermented bean (tau cho) paste ginger chicken. She once told me that steaming is one of the recognised cooking methods to taste the tenderness and juiciness of this white meat. Shhh....you're in luck today! In my experience as a young, serious and curious home cook, 17 minutes is the golden figure to guarantee the succulence of the steam chicken. Of course, watching over the heat is another point to note (which I'll be sharing below).
What makes this fermented bean paste ginger chicken a highly requested dish in the Chow's family dinner menu is the sauce. The sauce oozes effortlessly from the paste made up from this particular fermented bean paste (鲜枣豆酱王), hand pounded old ginger, sesame oil and oyster sauce. Despite a wee bit oily, my goodness, it goes addictively well with cooked rice and mee sua. Therefore, please cook another half a cup of rice on top of your usual consumption:D
Another key to note is the choice of ginger. Old ginger has a deep yellow appearance with a sharper, and more woody taste which is suitable for a rich, flavourful and spicy sauce. On the other hand, young ginger carries a lighter yellow tone, with a tinge of sharpness in taste, preferably for brewing tea, or making pickled ginger in my opinion. I've experimented both types of ginger for this dish, the taste of young ginger was weaken by the fermented bean paste, losing its presence and intended purpose for it. But the pungent old counterpart stood strong in its taste and marries the other strongly flavoured ingredients.
So if everyone is a fan of ginger, go for the former!
Lastly, I am elated to announce my first collaboration with Sadia for this recipe. Watch this space for more recipes in the upcoming months!
Time: 30 minutes
- 1 whole chicken
- 5 Chinese dried mushrooms
- 1 tbsp goji berries
- 100g old ginger
- 1 tbsp fermented bean paste (tau cho)
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp salt
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- ½ spring onion (cut into thin strips), optional
Preparation for the chicken
- It is best to plan your meal a day ahead! Place the frozen chicken in a container at the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, away from other foods to avoid cross contamination.
- The container collects the thawed liquid which has to be poured away before cooking. Thawing the chicken in room temperature can allow bacteria to grow.
- Fill a small pot with 3 cups of water and let it boil. Meanwhile, chop the chicken into individual parts with a cleaver. Cut off excess fat at the lower parts of the chicken.
- Rub all the chicken parts with salt thoroughly and add them into the boiling water for 2 minutes. This is to wash away blood spots of the chicken. Scoop chicken parts in a bowl.
Preparation for other ingredients
- Wash the goji berries
- Soak the dried mushrooms in a bowl of water for 5-10 minutes. Pour away water, and slice mushrooms into thin strips.
- Peel the skin of the old ginger and chop it into small chunks. Smash ginger chucks with the pestle till the they are flatten and juice surfaces. Caution: Keep your eyes away from the mortar while pounding as the ginger juice may splash and hurt your eyes.
- Pour 2 tbsp sesame oil over chicken parts and toss them till they are evenly coated. Arrange them neatly on to a steaming plate.
- Mix pounded ginger, fermented bean paste, shaoxing wine, oyster sauce and the remaining sesame oil together. Spread the paste over the chicken parts.
- Add mushroom strips and goji berries on top of the chicken pieces. Steam them over medium heat for 12 minutes. Then lower the heat slightly for another 5 minutes. Use a fork or a chopstick to check whether the chicken parts are cooked and tender. If it pierces through the meat easily, turn off the heat.
- Sprinkle spring onions over the chicken parts. Serve it with rice and drizzle plenty of sauce over to savour!