Saturday, February 18, 2006

Recipes for Chicken Broth and Hot and Sour Soup

Chicken Broth and Steamed Chicken

This recipe gives you homemade chicken broth plus a tender steamed chicken (which you can use in a salad or other recipe that calls for cooked chicken).

1 whole chicken
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: onion stuck with 3 or 4 cloves, 1 bay leaf, celery leaves and stems, and 1 carrot

1. Remove chicken parts from the inside of the chicken.
2. Wash the chicken parts and the chicken inside and out with cool water.
3. Put a steamer basket in a big pan filled to the bottom of the steamer basket with water. Salt and pepper the chicken . For more flavor you can add a bay leaf, an onion (unpeeled) stuck with 3 or 4 cloves, and a carrot.
4. Put the chicken and spare parts in the basket and cover the pan.
5. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn it the heat down to simmer for about an hour until the chicken is done.
6. Save the broth and the chicken for other recipes. Strain the broth if you added vegetables.
7. Cool the broth and discard the hardened fat that rises to the surface before you use it.

Hot and Sour Soup

I made this soup for my friend Marian Fahey, who was dying with cancer last year, because it has hot pepper in it. I found out during my own bout with tonsil cancer the year before that cancer patients often get back their appetites when they eat foods with hot pepper. Marian loved it and told me it was a “world class soup”! She saved it in little containers and froze it and ate it a little bit at a time, until the sad day came that she was not able to keep anything down anymore.

Others besides my poor dying friend have loved this soup too. I typed this up today to give to a Ukrainian couple who liked it when I served it a Sunday dinner at my house. It seems to have cross-cultural appeal, since not only the Ukrainian couple but the Japan couple who were also my guests liked it too. (I work with the men at Cyclades Corp., which was started by Brazilians, and was just sold to Avocent, an Alabama company, but that's another blog.) The recipe is adapted from Myra Waldo’s Chinese Cookbook. Courier Books: New York; 1968. I double or triple the recipe and freeze leftovers.

4 dried elephant ears (Chinese mushrooms) or more if they are small, washed, soaked in
1 cup water for 30 minutes, drained (save the water). and cut into matchstick-like strips
1 chicken breast (raw or cooked) cut into narrow strips
2 T vegetable oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 T. cornstarch mixed with 2 T saki or dry sherry and with 2 T rice vinegar or white vinegar
1 lb. Tofu cut in 1/4” squares
1 t. salt
1 t. soy sauce
1/8 t. cayenne pepper or ground dried red pepper
1 egg beaten (optional--I never use it because the soup is so rich already)
1 T sesame-seed oil
1 green onion, sliced thinly on the diagonal

1. If the chicken is raw, heat the vegetable oil in the pan and saute the chicken in it for 5 min. If the chicken is already cooked, add it with the vegetable oil in the next step.
2. Put the broth, mushrooms, and mushroom water in the pan with the chicken and oil.
3. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer for 10 min.
4. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the soup until thickened..
5. Stir in the optional egg and the tofu, sesame-seed oil, and green onion.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings. (I always add more vinegar and red pepper, sometimes more salt.)
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