Steamed Chicken in Fermented Bean Sauce

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Steaming is a way of cooking which the Chinese has popularised through their cuisine.

There are many advantages of steaming over stir-frying (wok) and deep frying, the other two popular techniques used in Asian cooking. For one there is no oily smoke to contend with which can be quite a bother for those living in small apartments. And if the air is dry (i.e those who live in colder climates), the vapors and smoke from your fried dishes will smoke the air. This may explain why vigorous wok-frying is less popular for those who live in Western cities.

Steaming also involves unattended cooking and this means you are free to do something else. And it is suppose to be healthier as less oil is involved. For me, one reason why I like to steam is because some dishes with chicken or pork usually turn out very good. If you start with good meat, the sweetness and flavour of the meat comes through better when you steam as there is less charring and generally, in steamed dishes, the ingredients used are milder tasting.

I have blogged quite a number of steamed recipes and you can check them out here.

I have explained briefly the "science" of steaming on this post. Unless you are blessed with a steam oven (you will have better control over the cooking process, more precision etc), using the wok, a stand  and a steel tray will do the job well. For meat or fish, you want to use a fast steam method, i.e. in "high" fire, which means the dish should be cooked in 15-20 minutes. The meat needs to be cut into small pieces. Apart from quicker cooking, this will also allow for better absorption of flavours.

Marinate the meat for about half an hour. Line the meat in one layer on the steaming tray. Place the accompanying ingredients on top. Ensure the water used for steaming is already hot and ready so that the steaming process begins immediately. Start steaming and leave the tray undisturbed for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust flavoring if needed. Garnish and serve immediately.

I have here a recipe for Steamed Chicken in fermented bean sauce (fuyi) with shimeiji mushrooms and sliced Chinese sausage. I am using ingredients adapted from a recipe in Sam Leong's "A Taste of Home." You can of course easily use other ingredients you have in your larder or fridge.

Setting up the steaming apparatus
1 chicken (about 1.2 kg) - cut into small pieces. (with bone or boneless, up to you)
Shimeiji Mushrooms
Chinese sausage
Diced ginger

4 pieces of fermented bean curd (fuyi)
2t of sugar
Chinese wine (Hua Tiao or Rice wine)

Additional Sauce:
3T soy sauce
1T Chinese Wine
Garlic oil (optional - I am only using it as I have it in the fridge)

  1. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes. 
  2. Place the chicken in one layer on the steaming tray.
  3. Add the sausages, mushrooms and diced ginger on top. 
  4. Steam for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the sauce.
  6. Spoon the sauce over the chicken when the steaming is done. 
  7. Garnish with coriander leaves and cut red chillies.
If you are not using boneless chicken meat, blanch it before you marinate. This will remove the scum, allowing for cleaner eating.

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  1. Now this looks like one tasty dish! Should try this weekend, cheers!

  2. Steaming might not be the first cooking method you think of when you are thinking of chicken breast recipe ideas but why not? Using steam to cook the chicken means that you do not have to use oil or butter, so your chicken will be healthier than if you were to saute or deep fry it.