Friday, 17 April 2009

Herbie affairs

We had Emperor Chicken couple of days ago. This dish originated long ago in China, the story begins when a starving, homeless beggar in rural China who stole a chicken from someone’s yard. That person killed it, built a fire and prepared the chicken for cooking. Suddenly, the emperor's guards came along with the emperor and his entourage, and in a panic to hide the chicken this person covered it with mud and threw it into the fire. Attracted by the aroma of the baked chicken, the Emperor stops and dines with the beggar, demanding to know how this food was created, and such a delicious meal. As the story goes, this emperor had such fancy and admiration for this humble dish that he made it his favorite dish in his palace. So with some herbal concoction this dish has become the Emperor's Chicken.

I used a packet of Emperor Chicken herbs & spices mix, you can easilly get this from any supermarket. One can choose to either steam or roast it. I decided to do the original - steam it.

First, apply the herbs and spices mix onto the skin and inside of chicken, massaging the chicken at the same time. Wrap the chicken in the plastic wrapper, followed by aluminium foil provided in the package mix. Place the wrapped chicken on a steaming dish. Steam the chicken for 2 hours over low heat.
I used the left over chicken for herbal soup the next day, just add in water & let it boil. It tasted like those herbal chicken soup which has been simmered for hours!

I love chinese herbs (most of them anyway). I am the type who happily breathe in the pleasant tonicky aroma whenever I walk pass chinese medicine shop. Thanks to my granny and mummy, when I came to the UK, I brought along some chinese herbs with me, only the common ones which can be used easilly:-

1. Red dates / Hong Zao - strengthen the functions of heart and lung, as well as nourish the stomach and spleen. Contains lots of Vitamin C. Ocassionally used this to boil soup together with Tong Sum.

2. Wolfberries / Gou Xi- high in antioxidants, good for improving eyesight and eyestrain. Also for soup and my steammed herbal chicken. This little berries are really sweet, we put them into our porridge to give it some sweetness. Can also put them into boiling water and drink it pure.

3. Tong Sum / Dang Shen - for lung and spleen, improve one’s 'chi' and stamina, good for those always feeling tired. It's a root similar to that of the ginseng family and is regard as the poor man's ginseng as it is cheap yet full of amazing properties. Love using this for our soup and herbal chicken. Throw some into a boiling water together with red dates and you have your tong sum red dates tea.

4. Bai Xian - Commonly used to treat cough with lots of white mucus that is difficult to dislodge. Use this for soup and cooking.

5. Pao Shen / american ginseng - tonic for the whole body, and believed to cure lethargy, arthritis, impotence, senility, diabetes, bla bla bla (the list goes on, there are tonnes of goodness in those roots) and also is one of the most effective anti-aging supplements. Good yeah? Since this stuff is quite expensive, I usually boil it under low heat overnight and drink it in the morning.

6. Cane root and arrow root - this one is prepacked with some other herbs in there. Just some sweet herbal drinks, has yet to boil it.

7. Ju Hua / Chrysanthemum - Mentioned this because it is a type of herbs as well. haha.

8. Snow fungus - Good quality snow fungus has a pale and yellowish-white color. Ladies, drink more of this as it is believed to promote healthy skin and good complexion. I love to boil this with red dates as sweet dessert. I'm boiling this today.

9. Pre packaged herbs - there are probably 6 types of herbs in there. Quite cheap, bought this for rm3 per pack. Will use it to make herbal chicken soup one day.

So, do I sound like an old ahma who is expert in chinese herbs? No way, I only know a handful of these, the rest I went to Eu Yan Sang's website to check out the name. Hahaha. By the way, I found out that there is a type of herb which shares the same name with me - the Stephania Root (Hanfang Ji), good for bladder, intestines.. cool huh.

Well, here is my herbie collection. I know these are nothing compared to most households back in Malaysia, but I'm already worried whether we will be able to finish them. Adrian doesn't touch these stuff for his cooking. It's me who has been using them constantly because I usually cook chinese food and I love drinking soup.
Hmmm, maybe I could try growing some ginseng in my backyard since my spring onions arent growing as well as I hope it would be (Nothing came out! Maybe the worms ate all the seeds?).
I wonder whether they have those prepack 'grow your own ginseng root'. Just stick the baby roots to the ground and let it grow? That would be easy...

- Steph


  1. woman! why dont' you make soup for me and i'll come and drink up all your extra herbiness... hehehe. keep up with the posting, and love the pics of your backyard! hurrah for spring! the next time you are in london and if the weather is nice we should have a picnic. xx

  2. woman, u can come over anytime! yes, picnic in the park.. that would be FUN!!


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