Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mom’s Cooking 2 - Poulet Au Vin Chinois

Chicken soaked in Chinese Red Rice Wine or to make it sound more fancy: Poulet Au Vin Chinois

This Chicken soaked in Chinese red Rice Wine is actually something I’ll probably never cook on my own - no matter how adventurous I may feel in the kitchen. Firstly, this special soup dish needs a special red rice wine that is not available in any store in North America, Chinese or otherwise. My mom usually orders her supplies from a home brewer in Toronto when she’s in town because not everyone knows how to make this special red rice wine well; if you get the wrong make of wine, the soup just won’t taste how it’s supposed to taste: semi-sweet and spiced up. Secondly, this is not exactly a regular dish that one would have everyday, except for a woman who has just given birth to a baby or a woman who has just had her period. This soup (supposedly) has the properties to reinvigorate the after-giving-birth body and to stimulate new “qi” in the body to help strengthen a weakened body. A woman who just had a baby would usually eat several dishes of this per day, everyday, for forty straight days (which could add up to forty whole chickens for forty days, imagine that!!), and according to the (Hakka) Chinese old wives’ tales, a woman who’s just given birth should stay confined within the house for forty days and should not wash her hair for forty days (in the old days, anyways); the old wives’ logic being that a woman’s body who has just given birth has a weakened immune system and it takes about forty days to recuperate. The same (supposedly) “health” benefits of this dish also applies to a woman who has just finished her monthly cycle, except she doesn’t have to eat the dish for forty days obviously, just a couple of servings for a few days, enough to keep the next monthly cycle regular and on time.

I still look forward to having this soup on the rare occasions that my mom cooks it. It’s still a tasty dish even though it (supposedly) has some remedial properties. The combination of ginger and sesame oil produces a nice smoky fragrant that complements the dulcet and mulled flavor of the red rice wine. The chicken, soaked up in wine, is tender and succulent and the boiled eggs make the soup even more enjoyable. A sip of this Chicken soaked in Chinese red rice wine soup gives a jolt of energy to my body and a warm rush through my veins. The ginger is supposed to get rid of chill/wind/cold in the body and the red rice wine is supposed to clean the blood and stimulate new red blood cells, or something like that.

There’s certainly no scientific proof of any of these, after all, this is just a (Hakka) Chinese old wives tale that’s been passed down from the older generations to the new generation and then to me, and so I’m only repeating what I heard, therefore I take it with a grain of salt ☺ Well, there’s my little contribution of an old wives tale to the mother of all old wives tales.

Red Fermented Rice is used to make the Chinese Red Rice Wine


1) Dry ginger – diced unpeeled ginger, sauté in pan on low heat without oil, until dry but not burnt.
2) Red Rice Wine
3) Free range chicken
4) Sesame Oil
5) Chinese herbs (optional) - Hong Zao; Dang Shen; Bei qi (consultation with professional Chinese herbalist required before consuming any of these Chinese herbs)
6) Boiled eggs

1) Saute dry ginger with sesame oil.
2) Add chicken and sauté.
3) Pour red rice wine and herbs and cover.
4) Cook on medium low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until chicken is tender.
5) Add Boiled eggs

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