An-yong-ha-se-yo! (Korean's greeting for hello). Does this chicken soup reminds you of the Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup? This is Fong's version, as I did not use Korean ginseng to prepare this. Instead, I used the mild American ginseng (花旗参). And unlike the Koreans who love to consume this soup in the hot summer period, I prefer to pamper myself to this hot piping soup during the year end chilling months.
To prepare this soup, you will need:
- 1 young chicken (slightly below 1 kg)
- 1/2 cup glutinous rice, soaked for about 2 hours
- 7 to 8 red dates, remove the core
- 5 to 6 cloves garlic, keep it whole (or use as little or many as you like)
- A big handful of dried lotus seeds
- Few slices American ginseng
- Spring onion for garnish
1) Wash the chicken and trim away any visible fats. I prefer to keep the chicken skin on (better flavour to the soup and keeps the meat moist) and skim the fats time to time during cooking.
2) Drain the glutinous rice and season with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the red dates, garlic, ginseng and some of the lotus seeds (see note below) with the rice.
3) Stuff the chicken with the glutinous rice filling. Stuff a few lotus seeds or red dates at the opening to keep the glutinous rice in the chicken. Use 2 to 3 toothpicks to seal the opening. Place the chicken and the remaining lotus seeds/ginseng/red dates in a deep pot or casserole dish (see picture above).
4) Prepare some boiling hot water. Pour the hot water into the casserole to cover the chicken. Bring it to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Let it cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn to low heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. Season with salt to taste.
5) Garnish with spring onion and serve hot.
Notes on lotus seeds:
We soak the glutinous rice to speed up cooking. However, the same does not seem to work for lotus seeds. Remember to rinse the lotus seeds with HOT WATER, briefly soak in hot water for a few minutes to slightly soften, so that you can split open the seeds to remove the inner bitter germ - 莲子心。 You can keep it if you like as the germ is believe to relieve body heatiness.
Do not wash or soak the lotus seeds in cold water, as the lotus seeds will harden up and do not soften easily during cooking. This is not an old wives' tale, as I made this mistake in the chicken soup. I happily soaked the lotus seeds in hot water and leave them for a few hours (totally forgotten about it). The lotus seeds remain hard after cooking.