- Course: Hot Appetizer
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
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Clear-steaming, otherwise known as double-boiling, is a simple technique used by Chinese cooks where a food is cooked slowly within a closed container. The result is a very clear, intense broth.
- 1 whole chicken, about 3 to 3½ pounds
- 6 cups boiling water
- 1¾ cups rice wine, preferably Shaoxing wine (available at Asian markets)
- 10 whole scallions, ends trimmed and smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
- 10 slices fresh ginger, the size of a quarter, smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1. Remove any fat from the cavity opening and around the neck of the chicken. Rinse lightly and drain. Using a heavy knife or a cleaver, cut the chicken, through the bones, into 10 to 12 pieces. Heat 2 quarts water until boiling and blanch the chicken pieces for 1 minute after the water reaches a boil to clean them. Drain the chicken, discarding the water, then rinse in cold water and drain again.
2. Place the chicken pieces and the Soup Broth ingredients, except the salt, in a heatproof pot or 2-quart soufflé dish. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and place on a steamer tray or small rack. Fill a wok with enough water to just reach the bottom of the steamer tray or rack and heat until boiling. Place the food on the steamer tray or rack over the boiling water, cover, and steam 2 hours over high heat, replacing the boiling water in the wok as necessary. Alternatively, you may steam the soup in the oven: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the ingredients in a Dutch oven or casserole with a lid and, before putting on the cover, wrap the top tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil; then cover. Place the pot in a lasagna pan or a casserole and fill with 1½ inches boiling water. Bake for 2 hours, replenishing the boiling water as necessary.
3. Skim the top of the broth to remove any impurities and fat. Add the salt. Remove the ginger and scallions, ladle the soup and pieces of the chicken into serving bowls, and serve. To reheat and retain a clear broth, steam or bake in a closed pot for 10 to 15 minutes, or until piping hot.
As do other cultures, the Chinese consider chicken soup a universal panacea for many illnesses and conditions. Chicken soup with ginger is often eaten by new mothers every day for a month after they have given birth. It is believed to restore and renew the body’s energy.
© 1999 Nina Simonds