Do you have a hand-me down recipe that you frequently make now? Several years ago I asked my mom if she would write down her recipes for me. I wanted her to write down recipes that she is used to cook while I was growing up, and recipes that she also continues to make at present time. She obliged, and in about 6 months presented me with a notebook containing her hand-written recipes. I have also written down her recipes once I started cooking, so her notebook supplements what I have.
One of the recipes in her notebook is this Ang Chow Chicken. Ang chow is red rice wine from Foochow (or Fuzhou), the capital city of Fujian province in China. To make ang chow, ang kak, or red yeast rice, is used along with jui piah, or wine cake, glutinous rice, and water. Glutinous rice is cooked first, which then will be put together in a container with the rest of the ingredients. Jui piah, or wine cake, is rubbed loose to get the content blended with rice and ang kak. The process of fermentation will take about 30 days.
I did not know how one would make ang chow before until I searched the Internet and came upon this wonderful article regarding the making of ang chow. It is fascinating! I hardly see or know where ang chow is sold here in the Oregon, and whenever I get to go back to Indonesia, I make sure I bring a bottle of ang chow with me. I cherish that bottle and would only use a little bit at a time even though I love the taste of ang chow in a cooked dish. I don't know how my family came to cook this particular dish; I'm not sure if one of my ancestors came from Fujian province either. I'd better asked my father the next time I talk to him.
There are two version of cooking with ang chow in soup in my family, one is with chicken and preserved mustard greens/pickled mustard greens, the other one is with beef and daikon radish. Ang chow is believed to have health benefits in cooking, for lowering cholesterol, and for mothers who just have given births. I may not care too much about the health benefits because this dish is certainly a comfort food for me, especially during the cold season.
Ang Chow Chicken Soup with Preserved Mustard Greens
2-3 lbs bone-in chicken thighs (or breasts)
1 10.5 oz preserved mustard greens/pickled mustard greens
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3-4 thick slices of ginger
1-2 tablespoons ang chow
Salt and white pepper to taste
Rinse chicken, chop into smaller size. Parboil the chicken for a few minutes and drain. Drain the mustard, and immerse it in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes. Drain again, and chop leaves to about 1-inch long.
In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, saute garlic and ginger slices for 30 seconds. Add the ang chow and stir for another 30 seconds. Add chicken parts, mustard leaves, and water (about 5-6 cups). Let it boil, then simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Taste with salt and pepper.