June 9, 2014

Chinese Drunken Chicken 醉雞

Chinese Drunken Chicken Wings 醉雞翅

Chilled, Cold, Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe
By Published: 2014-06-09

Cooking with Chinese wine has become a fascinating cooking and taste experience, once I got past the memory of once being extremely naively drunk on Mao-tai wine (and up chucking my dinner up on my companion's nice suit jacket!  Oh, the follies of youth!)  But seriously, the use of wine in Chinese cooking is a real art.  It is used everyday for even the most ordinary cooking!  There are so many types of Chinese wines: distilled from rice, glutinous rice, wheat, sorghum, millet, ginger, tea, herbs, berries, bamboo and fruits.  In our little kitchen we usually have around four different kinds of Chinese wines knocking about.  The important thing about Chinese wines to remember is that they have very high alcohol contents (20% to 40% proof) and therefore should be consumed with extreme care if drinking (yup, one lesson this girl has learned!)  However when one is cooking, that same intensity will give your food an extra kick of serious flavor layering that is hard to come by otherwise.  And thus we come to that perennial Shanghai superstar wine marinated chilled meat dish, the spectacular, the awesome, perfect for summer, Chinese Drunken Chicken, or 醉雞.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe
Chicken after poaching
Chinese Drunken Chicken is actually a simple dish.  So, as the usual rule with simple dishes, the quality of the ingredients that you use will greatly affect the final tastiness of the food.  First things first, find yourself some good Chinese wine.  Yellow wine, or 黃酒, is almost always paired with Chinese meat dishes.  The aromatic sweetness of yellow wine is the perfect complement to meat.  Yellow wine you could use can include everything from Shao Hsing Wine (紹興酒) to Huadiao Wine (花雕酒) to Nu'er Hong (女兒紅).  Aged wine will have nicer, rounder flavor.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe

When you get more familiar with the characteristics of your Chinese wines, you can do some creative combinations with different wines that will make for very interesting flavor layering in your dishes.  For example for Chinese Drunken Chicken you could use 90% Shao Hsing Wine and then 10% Chinese Rose Essence Wine (玫瑰露醉).  And so on...  There are so many different types of Chinese wines that the combination possibilities are endless.  You just have to get to know your Chinese wines first.  Just be careful when taste testing!

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe

And, for the other major ingredient in Chinese Drunken Chicken, get yourself some quality chicken, either fresh from the wet market or organic.  A bit more pricey but worth it for the taste alone.  Organic being a touch to pricey for us to eat all the time, we usually try to get freshly slaughtered chicken (never been frozen) at the wet market.  Remarkable taste difference, I must say.

And last but not least is the sugar that you use.  Everything counts in simple dishes!  We used a combination of Himalayan crystallized wild honey and Chinese rock sugar.  The Himalayan wild honey is rounder, softer in taste.   The Chinese rock sugar is sharper, punchier.  Together they finish off the wine infused chicken into a delicate yet meaty, tender and aromatic experience.  Because the ingredients are few, just chicken, wine and sugar, each ingredient's taste shines through clearly and cleanly.  (Psst!  Don't use white sugar!  We don't even buy white sugar anymore!)  White sugar won't do for this dish as it has very little character, only sweetness.  For Drunken Chicken you should really at least use Chinese rock sugar for the right taste and if you can't find that try using raw sugar.  Any sugar with body and taste will do.

Chinese, Drunken Chicken, Wings, 醉雞, 翅, recipe
One of the dynamic duos that structure chinese cooking:  ginger and spring onions
Drunken Chicken is usually known as a Shanghai meat dish but it actually is from Zhejiang province (my 媽媽's province!).  Zhejiang province is also the original producer of the Shao Hsing wine.  So Chinese Drunken Chicken, a historic dish that's been around for probably hundreds of years at least, was created in Zhejiang using local made ingredients.  How cool this that!

Drunken Chicken Wings Recipe   醉雞翅

Ingredients 

20 chicken wings, organic if possible
8 slices ginger
3 spring onion stalks, cut to 3 inch lengths
2 cups Shao Hsing Wine
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp rock sugar
1 tbsp Himalayan sugar
salt to taste

Directions:

Add enough water to pot to be able to comfortably cover the chicken wings. When water is boiled add the spring onion and ginger.  When you can smell the fragrance of the ginger and spring onion, add 1/2 cup of wine, salt and chicken.  Let boil for 2 minutes, then turn of heat, cover and let sit for 50  minutes.  Plunge into iced water until completely cooled. Put in strainer to drip dry.  Reserve cooking stock.

In small pot, heat 1 cup reserved cooking stock, 1 cup wine and two kinds of sugar just until sugar is melted.  Add salt to taste.  Taste and adjust with more salt and sugar if necessary.  Allow to cool completely.

Make sure wings are as dry as possible.  (If using whole chicken wings, cut to three parts at the joints.)  Put wings into shallow nonreactive dish.  Pour the cooled marinating sauce over.  Add the rest of the wine (1/2 cup).  Make sure the wings are completely covered.  (Top up with more wine if necessary.)  Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for one to two days.  Serve cold in the marinating sauce.

More Delicious Cold Chinese dishes at The Hong Kong Cookery:

Chinese Spiced Beef Shin 滷牛腱Chinese Spiced Beef Shin 滷牛腱

chinese jellyfish salad recipeJellyfish Salad 涼拌海蜇

Chilled, chinese, Cold, cold crab, crab, recipe, Vinegar Dip, 凍, 凍花蟹, 潮州, 花蟹Chinese Chilled Crab with Vinegar Dip 凍花蟹
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