This is a very simple yet classic recipe. Those in my age group should not be unfamiliar with this dish. It was a common chicken dish during my childhood era.
Though simple, the challenge is to debone the chicken and cut into beautiful pieces. I failed miserably as the chicken does not look like what I wanted it to be… It should be uniformly sliced and and with the same height. I am very poor in chicken slicing and personal opinion is that good slicing need practises, a sharp knife and appropriate force to cut the chicken.0
Deboning is another problem. After I deboned, some part of the chicken are thicker, some are thinner, some are slanting and I can hardly find enough pieces to fit into my serving plate. So I will leave the chicken cutting procedure to experience house chefs and I will not be sharing the method of cutting. I am confidence that many are able to cut the chicken better than me. If there is a need, for this recipe, you can Google “chicken deboning and cutting” for videos.
The proper name of this recipe is Jin Hua Yu Shu Ji (金华玉树鸡）or some local Cantonese may called it yuklan gai。 JIn Hua basically means a type of expensive Chinese Ham and in fact it is very difficult to buy Jinhua ham in Singapore. I saw some being sold in Sheng Shiong supermarket and it is very expensive. 4 locally produced small pieces (about 100 grams or less) cost about S$7.50. Therefore, in this recipe, I have opted to use western ham instead. I did have experience of tasting the Jinhua ham in restaurant but it is not my cups of tea. It is salty and I cannot appreciate the special “aroma”. Well, that is my personal opinion and possibly the one I tasted is not of a good quality. if you have and a fan of this expensive ham, you can definitely use it for the dish. In fact, this dish has become famous and considered as an classy elegant dish because of these expensive hams.
“Jinhua ham is a type of dry-cured ham named after the city of Jinhua, where it is produced, in the Zhejiang province of eastern China. The ham is used in Chinese cuisines to flavour stewed and braised foods as well as for making the stocks and broths of many Chinese soups. The ham was awarded first prize in the 1915 Panama International Merchandise Exhibition. The earliest recorded mention of the Jinhua ham processing technique is during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD), and this method of dry ham production is reported by some to have been in turn transmitted to Europe by Marco Polo. The name Jinhua was bestowed by the first emperor of the southern Song dynasty. It is highly regarded in Chinese cuisine, and may be eaten as part of a cold meat dish or used in producing soup stock, imparting its unique and umami flavour to any dish. Jinhua ham is an important ingredient in the dish Buddha jumps over the wall. The ham has been lauded in Chinese literature, and was prominently featured in the Qing dynasty novel Dream of the Red Chamber, when the cuisine of the nobility was being described.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jinhua_ham)
Yu Shu is literally translated to jade tree. It means that vegetables was served together with the meat dish and it can be any vegetables. For me, families like baby kailan and I have used this. Ji means chicken . This is also one of the auspicious dish in the eyes of the Cantonese because there is a saying “无鸡不成席“ means a feast must have a chicken dish to make it complete. Chicken 鸡 have the same pronunciation as auspiciousness 吉。Therefore, I have decided to issue this recipe for those who are looking for ideas in reunion dinner.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adults servings
- One medium size chicken
- 5-6 pieces of western ham or Chinese Jinhua Ham
- Some vegetables such as kailan
- 3 sprigs of spring onion
- 6 pieces of sliced ginger
- 10 tablespoons of chicken stock (from poaching of chicken)
- 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine or other Chinese cooking wine
- 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon of corn starch
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Boil a pot of water with ginger slices and spring onion. Once it boils, add the chicken and reduce the heat to small and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. (depend on size of chicken also). As long as you pierce the thickest part of the chicken (drumstick) and there is no blood water coming out, it is considered as done.
- Transfer the chicken to a basin of cold cooked water with ice added. The main purpose is to the prevent breakage of the skin.
- Debone the chicken and cut into pieces of similar size and place in a serving plate. Cut the ham of almost the same size as the chicken and place a piece each in between the chicken. If Jinhua ham is used, re-steam the chicken and the ham for 5 minutes under high heat. If western ham is used, you have the option to steam or not to steam the chicken ham combo since western ham can be eaten raw.
- Blanch the vegetable in hot water with pinches of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Drain and put pieces of vegetable next to the chicken in your desired pattern.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, stir until well combined and cook the sauce until it thickens. Drizzle the sauce on top of the chicken, ham and vegetables and the dish is ready to be served hot as a chicken dish in a Chinese feast.
You must be wondering what happen to the other parts of the chicken? Well, you know I am rather stingy and of course there will be no wastage for me. After cutting the meat, all the other meats I deboned and stir fried with soya sauce and become a dish for second day. As for all the bones, wings and legs, I boiled into winter melon soup.. I do not know how the restaurant balance the dish requirements and possibly you are paying for the price of the whole chicken, get 30% and 70% they used it for other dishes.
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