Once upon a time, I was searching for herbal chicken recipes to mimic this particular dish that I loved as a child, and could only find the one I liked in JB. However, even though that restaurant is still around, the quality of this dish seem to have deteriorated over the years. I found this recipe, which, while does not resemble the herbal chicken of yesteryear which I have been on a search for, is a great recipe nonetheless.
*edit: I realised that there were lots of missing steps and unexplained ingredients, so I have sinctndine tweaked the whole recipe to my own understanding.
- 6 whole chicken legs, or 1 whole chicken
- 3 tbsps oyster sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp rice wine, or any wine
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 whole bulb garlic, separated into cloves, skin on
- 2 cups water (more if you like more gravy)
- 3 tbsps cooking oil
- 1 heaping tbsp “Chin Kung” (good for blood circulation, a blood tonic)
- 3 slices of Tong Kwai (a blood tonic, good for those with menstrual problems)
- 1 large handful of Tong Sum (improve one’s “chi” and stamina, good for those always feeling tired)
- 3 tbsps wolfberries (high in antioxidants, good for improving eyesight and eyestrain)
- 6 Licorice Root slices (good in soothing throats and reducing phlegm)
- 1/4 cup dried longans (good for inducing restful sleep, for insomniacs)
- 1/4 cup of dried Red Dates
- 5 slices Wai San (Chinese Yam – good for kidneys and lungs)
- Clean and wipe dry chicken. Marinate with the ingredients mentioned above. Set aside for a few hours, if you have no time, then massage the chicken longer.
- Using the other ingredients in a wok, heat up the oil and put in the garlic cloves. Stirfry for 2 minutes. Do not add in water first, we are only sauteing the garlic at this point.
- Lower heat to medium and put in the herbs. Keep stirring to prevent burning as the herbs are dry and do this for about 2 – 3 minutes until the herbs are aromatic and have a “smoke” smell. *use VERY LOW heat!
- Add in the water, bring to a boil – then lower heat.
- Add in chicken and all the marinade, cover the wok and simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can add more water if it dries up and check for taste by adding more oyster or soy sauce, a bit of sugar and salt. Thicken with some cornstarch-water mixture if you want a thicker gravy.
- Pour the herbal sauce over the chicken in a casserole, and steam over high heat for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and steam for a further 40 to 50 minutes, depending on how soft you like the chicken meat to be.
- Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.