The chefs in Dong Thap Province cook chicken with pink mandarin so as to obtain the pretty color broth for New Year well-wishes, and the slightly sour flavor to dissipate the fatty foods or the early Spring piquant glass of wine. During Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays years ago, after the market session of the New Year’s Eve (the 30th of lunar December), all vendors closed their shops, relaxing for three days till the holiday ended before returning to business. In these reunion days, some dishes have been in the “must” list of traditional habits and ways: square and cylindrical glutinous cakes, pork braised with duck eggs, bitter gourd soup, and chicken stewed with lotus seeds and peanuts. That is the general formula, yet each region has its own variant depending on the local produces. Lai Vung region in Dong Thap Province possesses over one thousand hectares of pink mandarins, the type with bright color rind quite fit for Tet Holiday. Usually people offer these to the ancestors’ altar; in recent times, the trees are also trimmed into bonsai plants representing colors and good luck. The chefs in Dong Thap Province cook chicken with pink mandarin so as to obtain the pretty color broth for New Year well-wishes, and the slightly sour flavor to dissipate the fatty foods or the early Spring piquant glass of wine.
STEWED CHICKEN WITH PINK MANDARINPrint This
- 800g garden chicken
- 400g pink mandarin
- 200g fresh lotus seeds
- 250ml fresh coconut water
- 250ml chicken broth
- 50g black fungus soaked to swell
- 20g garlic
- 100g shallots
- 2g ground black pepper
- 300ml cooking oil
- 300ml water
- 3g salt
- 5g seasoning powder
Preparation: Rinse clean the chicken, chop into bite-size pieces. Peel off the mandarin rind, press or squeeze to obtain 100ml of juice. Press for extract of 20g garlic plus 30g shallot. Peel the remaining 70g of shallots, keep them in whole shape. Remove the heart of the lotus seeds, rinse well. Marinate the chicken with garlic and shallot extract, add 2g pepper, 5g seasoning powder; mix well and set for 20 minutes to absorb the spices. Rinse well the black fungus and slice lengthwise into wide strips.
Cooking: Put the lotus seeds into 300ml water and 1g salt, bring to boil for 5 minutes; ladle all out and set cool; keep the broiled liquid. Heat 300ml cooking oil in a pan till hot, fry the chicken quickly for the flesh to firm up a bit, ladle out to drain off the grease. Continue to fry the shallots till browned, then take them out of the oil.
Put the fried chicken and shallots into a pot. Add the fresh coconut water and chicken broth. Bring to boil on high heat, skim off the foam, set the heat to medium, stew the chicken for 10 minutes for the broth and coconut water to penetrate the chicken meat. Continue to add the water of boiled lotus seeds to submerge the chicken; keep stewing till the chicken is cooked; add the lotus seeds and black fungus and stew for 10 more minutes. Flavor with 2g salt to taste, then gradually pour in the mandarin juice until it is agreeable to your palate, turn off the oven.
Place the chicken onto a hollow serving plate together with the black fungus and lotus seeds; serve with fresh rice noodle or wheat noodle.
Some mandarin segments could be added on top for garnishing.
The chicken is cooked to proper tenderness and not overdone, flavorful, fragrant of mandarin, and has a sweet-sour flavor.
The lotus seeds are nutty soft.
Choose the garden chicken, the breeding hen with firm flesh for flavorful broth.
Do not use sugar when marinating the chicken since the coconut water is already sweet. Add the mandarin juice last in the process and turn off the heat immediately to maintain the content of vitamins and avoid bitterness.
EFFECTS OF THE DISH
This dish is very nutritious and helps supplement many trace minerals, vitamins, especially vitamin C; it also helps increase Qi energy, enhance the immune system, detoxify the body, fight against aging, stimulate digestion, improve circulatory system, prevent a number of cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and fight against cancers. It is very useful for people with weakening body strength, feeble Qi energy, anemia, loss of appetite, poor digestion, diabetes, high blood pressure, high volume of fat in blood, atherosclerosis, vascular diseases, and obesity.
TRAN MINH DUNG Song Tra Hotel (Dong Thap Province) Runner-up in the Southern regional semi-final round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013