Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drunken Chicken, Inspired By Masterchef 2 Participant, Alvin Quah

Drunken Chicken, Soup Queen's Quick & Easy Version and Absolutely Yummy

It's an understatement to say I love the TV series, Masterchef. I'm talking about the Aussie version which I started to get hooked on beginning with the adorable junior chefs in Junior Masterchef. I was bowled over by the kids' passion and knowledge of food. It puts some of us to shame really when you look at the breadth and depth of these kids' wisdom about cooking good food.

After that I started watching the Masterchef but I think our Astro here started showing only Masterchef 2. I think I missed a few episodes because I wasn't sure what time the show aired. Astro's programming can get a little weird.

But the Australian version of Masterchef, be it the junior or senior/adult versions, are very interesting to watch. Of course, nothing beats the precociousness of the Aussie kids.

Anyway, in one of the last few episodes, Alvin Quah (a Malaysian!) despite not being in the top 3 was picked to recreate his chicken dish - a dish he called Drunken Chicken.

I excitedly jotted down the recipe because Gary, one of the judges, loved it to bits. Especially when you pair it with the cucumber salad.

I have not had time to try Alvin's recipe but I have made something akin to that just this week.

Nic loves Taiwanese food and one of his favourite dishes is - you guessed it - Drunken Chicken or Chicken in Wine. It goes incredibly well with rice. We used to visit this lovely little Taiwanese cafe located on the first floor of Midlands One-Stop Mall for their superb dishes and that is how he got hooked.

(Speaking of which, I managed to get the recipe for the Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken dish - my fave - and have made it a few times and gotten the thumbs-up from the husband. That is why he likes it when I start experimenting in the kitchen. He knows he's privy to some goodies soon.... goodies for his tummy and good for his health too!)

Technically, Drunken Chicken is more soup than dish because it's the rich broth infused with chicken and wine that makes it such a comfort to eat/slurp up on a cold day. In Penang, we really don't have freezingly cold days (unlike HK in early spring but that's cause I really cannot stand cold) but we do have thunderstorms and rain. I figured this dish would go down well with Kuching people as it rains constantly over there.

In the spirit of Soup Queen, I think this dish is worthy of being featured as it contains herbs (goji berries or 'kei chi' to you and me) and it's really a soup more than a dish. Sometimes I even chew on dried goji berries because they really resemble raisins and taste sweet too. I learn this from my friend who said she chewed on goji berries all the time when growing up and I see it has done her a world of good as she isn't short-sighted at all.

Surprisingly, it was my first attempt at this dish so I am quite pleased that it turned out rather well. *pats myself on the back*

OK, enough chatter.

Here's how the dish looks like once it's done.

A closer peek at the Drunken Chicken 

I made this in my glazed claypot because claypots retain heat well, cooks food to just the right amount of done-ness and keeps food warm (great for keeping fried vermicelli or fried rice before you serve them).

Here are the ingredients.

Half a chicken, chopped into bite-size pieces (rub and marinate with 1 teaspoon salt for 20 minutes)
1/2 cup (125 ml) Shaoxing Hua Diao wine
3 tablespoons dried kei chi or goji berries, soaked in water for a while and drained
1 teaspoon salt
2 small pieces rock sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
5 slices young ginger
2 stalks spring onion
500 ml water

1. Put water, young ginger and spring onion into a pot. Cover and bring to a boil.

2. When water comes to a boil, put in chicken pieces, goji berries, salt, rock sugar, fish sauce and Shaoxing wine. (Actually you can add more wine if you like. As this was my first time, I decided 1/2 cup was just good enough. When I make it again, I would add a little more.)

3. Cover the pot. Reduce fire to the lowest so that the chicken simmers in its own broth. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Taste the broth after 30 minutes and see if you need more salt or more wine.

4. Dish up and serve hot.

Nic told me that for more robustness of flavour, I could add a dash of wine once I dish up the chicken and its broth. Hmm, good idea.

This dish tastes even better if you keep it overnight in the fridge and re-heat the next day. The flavours would have been better combined.

But if you smell the loveliness of the dish when you're simmering it on the stove, you probably cannot wait till tomorrow to taste it. It's that good.

In my next post, I will share Alvin Quah's recipe for Drunken Chicken.

A Tradition of Soup: Flavors from China's Pearl River Delta
Soup! Soup! Soup!: Chinese Style

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