Steamed chicken with mushrooms 冬菇蒸鸡 is a home-cooked dish 家常菜 popular among the Cantonese.
It is quick and easy to prepare steamed chicken, and the gravy is the most satisfying part of the dish. Children can finish eating a bowl of steamed rice just with the gravy. The older adults will love the tender chicken meat with a velvety texture. I will attack the mushrooms that soaked up the gravy with all the flavors of other ingredients.
I break down the steamed chicken recipe into three sections in this article.
- Three key points on how to prepare the chicken for steaming.
- How to prepare the dry ingredients in the recipe.
- How to steam the chicken.
Let’s get started right away.
1. Prepare the chicken
Boneless or bone-in?
The Chinese in Asia generally prefer to steam the chicken bone-in. You can remove the bone, or use chicken breast meat. However, the bones add some flavor to the gravy formed in the plate after steaming.
Breast or thigh meat?
There is a significant difference between using breast and thigh meat. Since thigh meat is more juicy and flavorful, I am using chicken thigh on the bone cut into small chunks in this recipe.
I prefer to remove any dangling skin on the chicken meat because it results in a very oily gravy after steaming. However, you can leave it on if you like the texture of the skin.
Marinate the chicken
The main ingredients for marinating the chicken are the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, and ginger. The first three are quite standard for marinating, but ginger is particularly suitable for marinating chicken and beef.
Blend the ginger into a paste and squeeze out the juice through a cloth bag. If you think making the juice is too troublesome, you can finely chop and mince the ginger. If you do this, use only young ginger which is not fibery.
Combine all the ingredients with the chicken and marinate for at least one hour. The best way is to marinate overnight in the refrigerator to let the meat has ample time to absorb the flavor.
2. Prepare other ingredients
This steamed chicken recipe is unique because most of the ingredients are dehydrated, except the chicken.
Chinese dried mushrooms
The dried shiitake mushrooms play a significant role in flavoring the chicken. As such, I do not recommend substituting them with other types of mushrooms.
The mushrooms taste best only when adequately hydrated since they are available in dry form. The best way is to soak them in water overnight. You can speed up the hydration by using hot water, which can cut the time required to about two hours. The actual time required depends on the size and thickness of the mushrooms.
I quartered the larger mushrooms and half the smaller mushrooms. Squeeze out the water and set aside.
Black fungus is not as common as dried-mushroom outside Asia but is widely used in Chinese culinary to prepare vegetarian dishes.
There are two common forms, the larger and thicker type called wood fungus 木耳, and the smaller and thinner type called cloud fungus 云耳. I prefer to use cloud fungus since I like the slippery and crunchy texture.
Cloud fungus is sold in dried form. You need to rehydrate it in water before use. Since it is thinner than dried shiitake mushrooms, it takes fifteen minutes to rehydrate and expands quickly to three to four times of the original size.
Remove the hard stem and rinse thoroughly to remove any sand and dirt. Cut them into smaller pieces if the size is too large.
Check out how to prepae Hot and Sour Soup, an authentic Sichuan style soup with wood fungus.
Dried lily flowers (金针)
Dried lily flowers are the unopened lily flowers. It is also sold in dried form like the mushrooms and black fungus.
Cut off both ends of the dried lily flowers. Tie a knob for those that are long enough to improve its appearance.
Wash them thoroughly and soak with water for fifteen minutes and is ready to use.
Check out how to prepare Buddha’s Delight (Lo Han Jai 罗汉斋), a full flavor Chinese style vegetarian dish with dried lily flowers.
Goji berries 杞子 and red dates 紅棗
Goji berries (also known as wolfberries) has a tart and sour note similar to cranberries, and red dates have a sweet taste.
The flavor of both ingredients complement each other and always paired together for making soup and desserts.
Soak both items in water for fifteen minutes and are ready to use.
Note: Both items are optional in this steamed chicken recipe, but it adds some additional flavor and color to the dish
3. To steam the chicken
Combine a tablespoon of cornstarch with the chicken right before steaming. I do not add the cornstarch to the marinade because it is pointless to do so. The amount of cornstarch I add may potentially hold back the flavor and hinder the absorption of the flavor during marination.
The cornstarch serves two purposes. It thickens the gravy and coats the chicken to make it taste velvety smooth.
Here are the steps on how to steam the chicken
- Squeeze out as much water as possible from the soaked ingredients. Excess water will dilute the gravy formed during steaming.
- Mix all the ingredients and place it in a stainless steel plate. Stainless steel is an excellent heat conductor, which is ideal for steaming. You can also use a ceramic plate if you want
- Arrange the chicken chunks single layer to ensure even cooking.
- Sprinkle some finely julienned ginger on top.
- Place in a covered steamer. Steam for ten minutes over high heat, then turn to low heat for another six minutes.
- 500g boneless chicken thighs, cut into large bite-sized chunks
- One teaspoon rice wine (optional)
- 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 tsp light soy sauce
- One teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- One teaspoon (5g) salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 2 tbsp Ginger juice
- One tablespoon vegetable oil
- One tablespoon cornstarch
- 10g dried cloud fungus
- 15g dried lily flowers
- Five dried red dates (optional)
- 1 tbsp goji berries (optional)
- 30g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until reconstituted
- One scallion, chopped (white and green portions divided)
- 10 g ginger - peeled and julienned
- Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients A except the cornstarch for one hour (overnight if time permits). Remove any skin dangling onto the meat.
- Rehydrate the Shitake mushrooms, black fungus, dried lily flowers, red dates, and goji berries.
- Cut the mushrooms and black fungus into small pieces. Tie the dried lily flowers with a knot.
- Squeeze out as much water as possible from the soaked ingredients.
- Add the cornstarch to the chicken before steaming. Mix with the soaked ingredients and scallion sections.
- Arrange the chicken to a single layer on the plate.
- Sprinkle with finely julienne ginger.
- Steam for ten minutes over high heat, then another six minutes over low heat. Serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 634Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 305mgSodium: 1188mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 64g