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Chinese Chicken Recipes Galore

To some, eating chicken is no great wonder. But for the Chinese, the bird is revered because chicken is believed to be a food that promotes longevity and healing.

From soups to main dishes, "Chinese Chicken Cooking" is chock full of recipes, both traditional and with a modern twist.

The book's author, Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, visits The Early Show on Thursday to demonstrate how to prepare a few of her 101 chicken recipes: Lemon Noodles with Chicken; Spicy Chicken Salad with Jicama and Carrots; Chicken Stir-Fried with Honey Melon; Twice-Fried String Beans with Minced Chicken; and Lion's Heads.

Lemon Noodles with Chicken
(Ling Mung Gai Mein)

The use of lemon and other citrus fruits in cooking is common in southern China, particularly in the Guangdong region, where they grow in profusion. In general, the cooks of Canton use whole fruits and whole dried fruit skins. Seldom is fresh rind used in classic cookery. This recipe is my design. I have borrowed the use of grated lemon zest from the West and added it to an essentially Chinese preparation.

Ingredients:
8 ounces dried rice noodles
3 tablespoons scallion oil (see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Scallion Oil:
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
3 to 4 bunches scallions (1 pound) trimmed, white portions lightly smashed, each scallion cut into 2-inch pieces

1 cup roasted chicken cut into 2-inch-long julienne (see below)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
1 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced

Roasted Chicken:
1 large whole chicken (6 1/2 pounds), such as an oven roaster, cleaned thoroughly and dried
2 tablespoons Chinese white rice vinegar or distilled vinegar
4 tablespoons Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
2 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 slice ginger, 1/2 inch long, lightly smashed
2 scallions, trimmed, cut into quarters, white portions lightly smashed
1 cup water

  1. Soak the rice noodles in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain through a strainer, loosen and allow to dry.
  2. Heat a wok over high for 30 seconds. Add the scallion oil, garlic, salt, and sugar and stir together briefly. Add the lemon zest and stir. Add the chicken and stir for a minute.
  3. Add the noodles, lower the heat, and mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice-Tabasco mixture and toss. When the noodles are well mixed and coated, turn off the heat and add the scallions. Mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a preheated platter and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Spicy Chicken Salad with Jicama and Carrots
(Gai See Sah Lut)

This is another use for poached chicken. What makes it particularly good for cool salads is the lingering taste of the poaching liquid, which is intensified in the chicken through refrigeration. This is another cooling salad, a dish for warm days. It would usually be used to demonstrate how crisp the jicama is and how well it substitutes for the water chestnuts. This salad is best served cold.

For The Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons Chinese white rice wine vinegar or distilled vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper oil (see below)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
Pinch white pepper

1 1/4 cups poached chicken meat shredded by hand into 2-inch lengths
1 1/4 cups jicama cut into 2-inch-long julienne
3/4 cup carrots cut into 2-inch-long julienne
1/4 cup white parts scallions shredded into 2-inch lengths

Hot Pepper Oil:
1/2 cup hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut oil

  1. Put the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Be sure that the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the chicken, jicama, carrots, and scallions and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Chicken Stir-Fried with Honey Melon
(Mut Gua Cai Pin)

This recipe from Hong Kong contains both honeydew and cantaloupe melons, which are commonly called by the same name in China, mut gua, literally "honey melon." For the dish to be at its best, the melons should be ripe and sweet but firm. Use the flesh of the melon closest to the seeds; it's usually sweeter.

For The Marinade:
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Shao-Hsing wine of sherry
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch white pepper

8 ounces chicken cutlet, cleaned thoroughly, dried, and cut thinly across the grain, on the diagonal, into slices 2 inches wide by 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup snow peas (ends and strings removed) with each pod cut into 3 pieces on the diagonal
4 scallions, white parts cut into 1/2 inch-long pieces
1/2 honeydew melon, cut into 1-inch square slices, 1/4 inch thick (about 1 1/4 cup)
1/2 cantaloupe, cut into 1-inch square slices, 1/4 inch thick (about 1 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken and toss. Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds; add a tablespoon of the peanut oil, and coat the wok with it, using a spatula. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the salt and stir briefly. Add the snow peas and scallions and stir-fry until the snow peas turn bright green, about a minute. Add the honeydew and cantaloupe and stir-fry until just hot, about a minute. Turn off the heat. Remove the contents from the wok and set aside. Wipe the wok and spatula with paper towels.
  3. Reheat the wok over high heat for 20 seconds. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil and coat the wok with it. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and marinade, spread the mixture in a thin layer, and cook for a minute. Add the reserved melons and vegetables and stir-fry until well-mixed and very hot, about another minute. Turn off the heat. Transfer the mixture to a preheated dish and serve immediately with cooked rice.

Makes 4 servings

Twice-Fried String Beans with Minced Chicken
(Gai Yung Chau Sei Gaui Dau)

This classic and spicy preparation is said to have been born in Hunan, though Sichuan claims it as well. No matter. In Hunan it is prepared with "long beans," basically string beans that grow from 18 to 24 inches in length. These long beans, thin and tender, are usually available in Asian markets, but if unavailable, common string beans work nicely as well. The intensity of the heat in this dish is a personal choice, dictated by the amount of hot pepper flakes you choose to add.

Ingredients:
4 ounces chicken cutlet, cleaned thoroughly, dried, and ground
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

For The Sauce:
2 teaspoons double dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Shao-Hsing wine or sherry
1 1/4 teaspoons hot pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup chicken stock (see below)
Pinch of white pepper

Chicken Stock:
3 quarts water plus 7 1/2 quarts cold water
2 whole chickens (8 pounds total) including giblets, fat removed, and each chicken cut into quarters
2 pound chicken wings
1/2 pound piece of ginger, cut into thirds, lightly smashed
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into thirds
4 medium onion, quartered
1/4 pound fresh coriander, cut into thirds (1 cup)
1/4 cup browned onions (see below)
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
Salt

Browned Onions:
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
1 pound yellow onions, very thinly sliced (4 cups)
5 cups peanut oil
1 pound fresh whole string beans, ends removed, washed, dried thoroughly
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Shao-Hsing wine or sherry

  1. Mix the chicken well with the sesame oil and salt. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, and reserve. Mix the sauce ingredients thoroughly and reserve.
  2. Heat a wok over high for a minute. Add the peanut oil and heat to 350F. Place the string beans in a Chinese strainer and lower them into the oil. Fry for 2 1/2 minutes and turn off the heat. Remove the beans with the strainer and drain them over a bowl. (The string beans will have a shriveled look, which is the desired appearance for this dish.) Drain the oil from the wok.
  3. Return 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok and turn the heat to high. Add the ginger and garlic and stir briefly. Add the chicken and loosen it with the spatula. Stir and mix and cook for 1 1/2 minutes of until the chicken turns white. Add the string beans and stir-fry for another 1 1/2 minutes. Add the wine by drizzling it in from the edge of the wok. Stir the mixture for 30 seconds. Make a well in the mixture, stir the reserved sauce and pour it in. Stir the mix well and cook until the sauce thickens. (The string beans should be thoroughly coated and there should be no residual liquid in the wok.) Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a preheated dish. Serve with cooked rice or with steamed lotus leaf breads.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Lion's Heads
(See Ji Tau)

A tradition in Shanghai for centuries, as well as in nearby Yangzhou, this preparation is distinguished by its unusual appearance: large, slightly flattened balls of meat sauced and served with small stalk vegetables known as Shanghai bok choy. The meatballs are called "lion's heads" simply because of their size. Usually the balls are made of ground pork and pork fat, browned and then cooked together with the bok choy in a clay pot or casserole; or they are cooked alone and then served with the bok choy and covered with a thick sauce. As far as I have been able to determine they have never been made with any meat except pork, until now. I have made my own lion's head with my basic minced chicken filling recipe with great success. These are especially good with Steamed Lotus Leaf Breads

Ingredients:
Double-recipe basic minced chicken filling (see below)

Minced Chicken Filling:
1/2 pound chicken cutlets, washed and dried thoroughly with paper towels, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3 tablespoons peeled fresh water chestnuts cut into 1/8 inch dice
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese white rice wine or gin
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch white pepper
2 tablespoons beaten egg whites

For The Sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons double dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock ( see below))
4 bulbs Shanghai boy choy (1 pound), each quartered, green leaves trimmed to a point, washed and dried

Chicken Stock:
3 quarts water plus 7 1/2 quarts cold water
2 whole chickens (8 pounds total) including giblets, fat removed, and each chicken cut into quarters
2 pound chicken wings
1/2 pound piece of ginger, cut into thirds, lightly smashed
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into thirds
4 medium onion, quartered
1/4 pound fresh coriander, cut into thirds (1 cup)
1/4 cup browned onions (see below)
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
Salt

Browned Onions:
1 1/2 cups peanut oil
1 pound yellow onions, very thinly sliced (4 cups)

For The Blanching:
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda, optional

  1. Make the minced chicken filling and refrigerate covered for 4 hours or overnight, uncovered, before use. Mix the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl and reserve.
  2. Make the lion's head meatballs: Coat your hands with peanut oil and run a large dish that will hold the lion's heads lightly with peanut oil. Divide the minced chicken filling recipe into 4 equal parts and form into 4 large round chicken meatballs, pressing them slightly to flatten them a bit. (They will look like fat hamburgers.) After forming the first, moisten your hands again with peanut oil. Repeat until all 4 balls are made; place in the oiled dish.
  3. Heat a cast-iron pan over high heat for 45 seconds (10 seconds for a nonstick pan) and add the peanut oil. When a wisp of white smoke appears, add the meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium and fry one side for 2 minutes until browned. Turn the balls over and repeat. Add the chicken stock to the skillet, turn the heat back on high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cover the skillet, leaving a small opening at the edge. Simmer the meatballs for 3 1/2 minutes, turn over, and cook for another 3 1/2 minutes. Reserve the lion's heads in a preheated dish.
  4. While the lion's heads simmer, water-blanch the bok choy: In pot, bring the water, salt, and baking soda to a boil over high heat. Add the bok choy and blanch for 3 minutes or until tender.
  5. To serve, drain the bok choy and place it around the edges of a preheated platter as a border. Place the lion's heads in the center of the platter. Turn the heat back to high, stir the reserved sauce and pour it in. Stir in one direction until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce over the lion's heads. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

Note: To reheat the lion's heads, bring to room temperature. Place in a skillet over low heat with the sauce, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until hot. If there is no sauce left, or the meatballs are dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of chicken stock to the skillet, just enough to cook the balls without soupiness.