Stewed turmeric chicken (黄姜鸡 in Chinese or ayam kunyit in Malay) is a dish that transcends two cultures in Malaysia - Chinese and Malay. The Malays usually serve turmeric dishes (such as turmeric rice, turmeric chicken etcetera) during the month of Ramadhan, Aidfiltri, Aidiladha, during feasts, wedding receptions and also in daily home-cooked meals. Consider turmeric to be one of natural most potent anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, the Chinese believe turmeric intake after woman's childbirth can help to expel winds and invariably turmeric is widely used in Chinese post-natal confinement recipes favoured for its healing properties. The list goes on for health benefits of turmeric.
Before I digress further into a health charade, this chicken recipe relies heavily on fresh turmeric root to exude a slightly bitter, with a hint of mustard and horseradish flavors and imbue the dish with its strong golden yellow color. Young ginger and lemongrass also blended together with fresh turmeric to impart an aromatic flavor but to me, lemongrass flavor is too mild to overpower fresh turmeric. The most vivid experience while preparing this turmeric dish is, this powerful yellow dye will leave its trail in whatever things it's in touch with, my cooking utensils, chopper board, plates and even my own hands did not get spare from its natural golden yellow dye. Gosh, it takes days to get rid of and I have to hide away my yellowish hands from appearing public! My advice, avoid touching your clothing when working with turmeric and use glove if possible. Some say cleansing milk will get rid of the stain it left behind but I've yet to verify the effectiveness. You might want to try when you're dealing with it.
If you're cracking your head thinking to add some out-of-the-ordinary flair to your thawed out chicken, try the below home-cooked stewed turmeric chicken recipe! 黄姜鸡食谱
1 whole chicken, about 1.5kg
50g fresh tumeric (黄姜)
100g young ginger (嫩姜)
4 stalks lemongrass (香茅)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp shaoxing wine (绍兴酒)
1. Clean the whole chicken and cut into half.
2. Put fresh tumeric, young ginger and lemongrass into a food processor and blend until very fine.
3. In a heavy non-stick skillet, heat up 1 tbsp oil, saute all the blended ingredients (in method 2 above) until fragrant. Add in water, seasoning and bring to boil.
4. Add in chicken, cover with lid and cook at low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the skillet and leave it to cool down before cutting into pieces.
5. For the remaining gravy in skillet, reheat the gravy with 1 tbsp shaoxing wine added in and then bring to boil. Pour over chicken and serve.
Turmeric tips :
(i) Fresh turmeric can be found in Asian wet markets, or in some Asian specialty stores in the US. You can use ground dried turmeric as a substitute but be reminded that you're not able to reproduce the same flavors as exuded by the fresh turmeric.
(ii) Turmeric is highly susceptible to light, hence it's usually stored in an airtight container in a dark cool place. It will lose its potency approximately after six months and even sooner if it's exposed to light or heat.
(iii) Turmeric is extremely pungent and gets stronger when cooked. Hence use it sparingly when experimenting.
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