Steamed "Kampung" Chicken in Ginger Sauce

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ed: I have revised and improved this recipe.

I am glad I can blog a dish which can be had for our daily dinners.

We are familiar with how good steamed fish can be. Do you know that steamed chicken or pork ribs, properly done, can be very good too? And when it comes to steamed chicken, the texture and sweetness stands out compared to other methods of cooking the bird. If you use Kampung Chicken, it will be fantastic. 

My approach to this dish is inspired by the "Keong Choong Cho Yin Kai" served by the brothers at Public Pusing Restaurant in Ipoh.

This restaurant is also known to some as Mun Choong as it was named when it first started in a nearby town. They shifted into the heart of Ipoh and has since become very well patronized for its exceptional food at reasonable prices. At every trip to Ipoh, we will dine there at least once.

On one occasion, I spotted Michelle Yeoh eating there with some family members.

No, she was neither crouching nor hiding. None of that awesome fearsome tiger and dragon stuff.
She was just The Lady, demurely eating her comfort food.

Like every girl, she must have missed her hometown cuisine very much.  And I like to think that she must be eating steamed chicken with ginger sauce and thinking to herself, "How can I recreate this in Hollywood or Rangoon?"

Pusing's version
We order this dish every time we visit Pusing. And I mean, every time. No one does steamed chicken in ginger sauce the way they do it here. Even my Mum tried to deconstruct the dish but she never quite succeeded. This dish was certainly one of her favorites. 

I did ask a few questions and analyzed it each time we visited (as I did again recently). I started experimenting and here is the recipe.

You start with Kampung Chicken or a "free-range" chicken. In particular, I like to use the Anxin "naked neck" chicken. Don't use the soft "white broilers" breed. Read this post to find out more about the Anxin chicken. You can buy naked neck chicken from the local wet market. Ask the chicken seller to chop it into very small pieces for you i.e. the chicken wing is in five parts as a guide. Separate out the backbone parts and feet as these can be used for stocks.

Here is the recipe:

Steamed "Kampung" Chicken in Ginger Sauce

To serve  4-5:

1 Anxin, Kampung or Free-range Chicken (about 1.5 kg)

For the Ginger sauce:

3T diced old ginger
3T diced young ginger
3T diced garlic
2T oyster sauce
2T soy sauce
1T dark sauce
2T sugar
1t salt
2T Chinese wine
2T Sesame oil
3T Cooking oil
2T Corn flour


Preparing the Ginger Sauce:
  1. Chop the ginger coarsely. 
  2. Squeeze the ginger's juice out and use the juice for another dish. 
  3. Chop the garlic coarsely.
  4. Heat up the sesame and cooking oil in the wok. Small flame.
  5. Add the garlic paste and ginger paste. Fry for 10 minutes.
  6. Add oyster sauce, salt, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer for another 10 minutes. 
  7. Add Chinese wine and switch off the fire.
Preparing the chicken
  1. Prepare the steamer. Boil the water.
  2. Blanch the chopped chicken (in the same water to be use for steaming - convenient). This cleans off the scum.
  3. Marinate the chicken with the ginger sauce and corn flour for 2 hours.  
  4. Dish out the chicken into the steaming tray. Ensure it is spread out in one layer.
  5. Steam for 15 minutes in boiling water.
  6. Pour into plate, garnish with coriander leaf or chopped spring onions. Sprinkle some white pepper. Serve.
Cooking Notes:
  1. If you have good strong and fragrant ginger like Bentong ginger, use it.
  2. You can use an electric chopper to chop the ginger. Avoid using the blender for it will produce a wet and mushed texture. 
  3. The ginger sauce can be prepared in advance and fridge for future use.
  4. When cooking chicken, especially steaming, for cleaner eating, the chicken should be blanched. This removes the blood scum and impurities.
  5. It is important to cut the chicken into very small pieces for faster steaming and tastier eating as smaller pieces has a higher sauce-meat proportion.
  6. Chicken wings are good for this. Add some more if you want to. Remember to cut them up.
  7. You can replace the chicken with pork ribs too. This sauce also goes well with steamed fish. 
Frying the Ginger sauce
Mixing in the sauce and preparing the chicken for steaming

Bentong Ginger is in the center. The skin is dirtier and more crusted,
cf to the ordinary ginger with shinier skin.
Brown garlic on the right.
I think this is a reasonably good version. The chicken is succulent and the balanced sauce tasted great. My family loves it.

This is Chinese and Cantonese cuisine at it's usual best. Quick and easy. Do the sauce well. Don't over cook the meat. You will have a another refreshing and tasty dish which can be served regularly on your dinner table. Prepare the ginger sauce in large batches and use it for other dishes.

When you are next in Ipoh, drop by this restaurant. Capture the memory of the taste and you should be able to make the sauce with reference to theirs.

Happy steaming.

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  1. this is a delicious dish. Ginger with wine is so versatile

  2. Definitely worth a try. But I know my kids might not be so enthusiastic coz' they don't like ginger.

  3. Would this work if the chicken is sous vide? What would the settings be?

    1. I am sure it will but I do not see any advantage of using SV over steaming

  4. I would be interested if sous vide will give the same result, since it can control the done-ness of the chicken?
    Have you cooked Ham Yu Jing Kai, Steamed Chicken with Salt Fish? I think I had it once in the old Hill St FC, and it was delicious! Now gone....sigh!
    Love your blog and mouthwatering photos...have book-marked it for reference when I visit my son in the US.

  5. You can sous vide but since steaming is so easy, might as well stick to that. But of course if u are cooking huge portions, sous vide could come in handy, steam chicken w salt fish should work of course...

  6. very interesting. Thanks so much for posting the recipe would be looking for more recipe post. :)

  7. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Tried it today and it's delish!

  8. Hi, would like to make big portion of ginger sauce. May I know how long it can be kept in the fridge?

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