SINGAPORE - Here is a nourishing chicken soup to soothe the soul. This one-pot dish is so hearty, it is a meal on its own.
Instead of Korean ginseng, I use panax ginseng and add bei qi (astragalus root), which in traditional Chinese medicine is believed to tonify the lungs and boost immunity. Dangshen (codonopsis root), believed to tonify the spleen, lends the soup an aromatic sweetness.
I recommend using Sakura chicken, which is reared without antibiotics. The meat is firmer and holds up well for slow cooking.
Sakura chicken is leaner than the usual white chicken and does not leave the soup oily even if you cook it with the skin on. I have tried using kampung chicken with this recipe, but the soup ends up yellow, which is not as visually appetising.
When cleaning the chicken, remove the innards from its cavity.
Instead of onion, you can use 20g of ginger and four garlic cloves. But I find the combination of onion and leek renders more flavour and sweetness.
For cooking soups, I use a claypot - it does not work on induction cookers, but is excellent for cooking the chicken in residual heat.
To allow the glutinous rice filling to cook faster and more evenly, I do not truss the chicken, which would have meant tying its legs together or using skewers to seal the cavity.
It is fine if some of the rice spills out of the cavity. If you want more glutinous rice in the dish, you can use half a rice cup (75g) more to cook in the soup.
Korean-style ginseng chicken soup
1 rice cup of glutinous rice (150g)
2 large dried shiitake mushrooms (16g)
33g dangshen (codonopsis root)
1 whole Sakura chicken (1.6kg)
21/3 tsp salt
6 red dates (33g), halved lengthwise
6 pieces of panax ginseng
1 white onion (123g), quartered
3 pieces of bei qi (4g astragalus root)
1 stalk of leek (110g), sliced diagonally
1. Soak the glutinous rice in 500ml of water for an hour.
2. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 200ml of water for an hour or until they turn soft. Rinse well and slice into eight pieces each or four pieces if the mushrooms are small.
3. Using a pair of scissors, cut the dangshen into 2cm pieces.
4. Once the glutinous rice is soaked, drain and add 1/3 tsp of salt. Mix well. Set aside.
5. Wash and clean the chicken. Using a pair of scissors, cut off the feet and remove the nails. Set aside the chicken feet. Rub 1 tsp of salt all over the chicken, including its cavity.
6. Place two red dates, two pieces of panax ginseng, four pieces of dangshen and the glutinous rice in the chicken's cavity.
7. Place the stuffed chicken and its feet in a large pot.
8. Add the white onion, bei qi, remaining panax ginseng, dangshen and red dates.
9. Add 3.5 litres of water. Bring to a boil and simmer covered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
10. Add 1 tsp of salt. Cover and continue to simmer for an hour. Turn off the heat. Without removing the lid, let the chicken cook in residual heat for another hour.
11. Bring the soup to a boil again. Add the wolfberries and leek.
12. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat.
13. Serve immediately.
Makes four to five servings