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Cook up a storm this CNY #3: Samsui Ginger Chicken

Cook up a storm this CNY #3: Samsui Ginger Chicken

Not all dishes that we enjoy this festive period have to be particularly extravagant. Which is why Samsui Ginger Chicken always has a space on our Chinese New Year menu. 

“Could any book on Singaporean food be complete without this simple but meaningful dish?" asks Denise Fletcher in her book, How to Cook Everything Singaporean.

The author-chef said that Samsui Ginger Chicken was considered a luxury to the Samsui women, most of whom were Cantonese or Hakka. "They came from the Sanshui county of Guangdong, China. While other female Chinese migrants in Singapore in the early 1900s took a more profitable route, Samsui women resolutely worked in construction sites, performing back-breaking tasks for meagre pay," Denise says, adding that their daily meals "were always paltry".

However, for just one day, during Chinese New Year, they would all gather to prepare and enjoy this simple but delicious meal. "We owe these remarkable women as much for this beautiful dish as we do for their contributions to the literal building of Singapore," says Denise. 

We heartily agree. 

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PREP 30 minutes, COOK 20 minutes, SERVES 6

What you need
Dipping Sauce 
Young ginger (with thin, pink-tinged skin), scraped and cut, 100g
Mature ginger (the regular kind), peeled and cut, 100g
Sesame oil, 50ml
Vegetable oil, 50ml
Chinese cooking wine, 4 tbsp
White vinegar, 1-2 tbsp
Lightly soy sauce, 2 tbsp
Salt, 1 tsp (or to taste)
Sugar, 2 tsp

Chicken
Large chicken thighs with bone, 8
Salt, 1½ tsp
Clean basin of ice-cold water
Small iceberg lettuce (leaves separated and ribs discarded), 1
Spring onion stalk, shredded (to garnish), 1

How to cook
Prepare a steamer and bring to the boil.

Process the gingers, sesame oil and vegetable oil to a fine paste.

Transfer to a pan and cook until the mixture bubbles. Turn off the heat and add the cooking wine, vinegar, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, cover and set aside.

Season the chicken with salt and rub all over. Arrange on a large plate and steam for about 20 minutes or until just cooked but still succulent. Reserve the steaming chicken juices for another use.

Plunge the cooked chicken in the cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and drain thoroughly.

Remove the bones and chop the chicken into thick slices with a sharp cleaver.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter and put a bowl of the ginger dip in the empty space in the middle of the platter. Arrange the chicken slices on the lettuce leaves around the bowl of the ginger dip.

Garnish the chicken slices with shredded spring onions. Serve with white rice.

Note: Steaming chicken juices can be added to the dip if you feel it is too thick; otherwise, it can be diluted into a sipping broth to serve with the chicken.

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Buy Denise Fletcher's How to Cook Everything Singaporean or any cookbook by Epigram Books and get 20% OFF your purchase. Offer end Feb 12, so don't delay, get yours today. 

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