when baking, follow directions.. when cooking, go by your own taste.. ~ Laiko Bahrs
for instant bak kut teh/herbal pork soup, i prefer to use A1 brand’s packed herbs..even for other herbal meat dishes, i like A1′s..so, i was reaching for a few packs of A1′s packs when i saw some colorful packs nearby..
various packs of Claypot brand herbal concoctions for cooking..soups, steams, bakes even..so, i bought a few packs to try out..
for this post, i’m trying out the ‘Emperor Chicken’ pack..comes complete with tin foil and food-grade plastic wrappers..
i also bought a few ayam kampung/free-range organic chicken that day..my grandma used to catch her own home-reared chicken, kill it and pluck out the feathers and all before cooking it..all done BY HAND..i used to watch the whole process from the window overlooking the walled-off cemented courtyard where all the action happened..
oh alright, i’ll describe how the whole thing goes..catch a live chicken..hold it down..have a big basin ready at the side..use a sharp knife to slit its neck/throat..quickly cover it with the big basin..place a heavy stone on top of the basin..leave it for about half an hour or more..the chicken will trash about and squawk really loud under the basin..when all’s quiet and still, take the dead chicken out, place it in another smaller basin..wash and scrub away the blood on the cement floor, and the big basin..boil a huge pot of water..blanch the chicken a few rounds..let the chicken cool down considerably..pluck out the feathers..ALL the feathers..pull out all the entrails and what-nots..clean and rinse it with water..and tadaaa~ chicken ready for cookin’~ and that, peeps, is how we kampung folks do it~ yeah, gross and all, but nothing beats FRESH CHICKEN~ =D
clean the chicken, cut off fatty bits and pluck out any small feathers still stuck on it..
next, prepare the stuffing..you don’t have to, if preferred..i just like to stuff chicken with fresh herbs before i steam it sometimes..
i used ginger, parsley and wolfberry/goji berry..gives the chicken a wonderful aroma from inside out..you can use other fresh ingredients too if you like..ooh, try a couscous stuffing..there’s no need to cook the couscous first..moisture from the chicken, or rather, juices that ooze out from the chicken will cook it perfectly..just mix uncooked couscous with some golden raisins and sliced dried peaches with a bit of salt..and stuff all that in the chicken cavity..hours of steaming later and you’ll get perfectly cooked couscous stuffing~ =D
just remember not to stuff the chicken too full..couscous WILL bulk up in size and you don’t want the stuffing to burst out..
toss the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl..
and we’re ready to stuff the waiting chicken~
see that gaping cavity? chuck all the stuffing inside..leave no corners unstuffed..for this stuffing, you CAN push in as much as you feel like..the parsley will wilt in the end..no worries of over-stuffing for this type of stuffing~
now that you’re done stuffing the chicken to the brim (literally~), time to seal the cavity up..
i used a clean and unused toothpick for the job..remember, use only CLEAN AND UNUSED toothpicks..jeez..don’t go all cheapskate and recycle toothpicks..eeeurggghhhh~
sew the cavity edges together to seal up the whole thing..
next, place stuffed chicken in a plate..rub it all over with the dry herbal rub mix..make sure all surfaces are covered..
once you’re done rubbing the chicken all over with the yummy (i tasted it..delish~~~) herbal rub, place it on the wrappers..
step 1 ~ food-grade plastic wrapper on top of the tin foil..then, the chicken on top of the plastic..
step 2 ~ fold one side of the plastic on the chicken..then, the other side on top of that..
step 3 ~ press and fold the bottom and top edges down..
step 4 ~ fold the top and bottom flaps up, hold them together like that..
step 5 ~ fold them inwards, down towards the chicken..hold the top part down as you start folding the tinfoil wrapper..
step 6 ~ follow the same steps above for the tinfoil wrapper..
step 7 ~ once you’re done with the folding, crunch the side edges at the bottom inwards, to prevent any possible leakage..just in case, you know..i’m a lil’ paranoid like that..i always make sure anything and everything’s properly ‘sealed in’, that kinda stuff..especially in the kitchen..
step 8 ~ place the bag of chicken in the prepared steamer, steam it on low heat for approximately 2 hours..LOW heat, TWO hours..
when the chicken’s done steaming, take the bag out of the steamer..unwrap the tinfoil covering..carefully unwrap the plastic one..there will be hot steam coming out as you unfold the final layer, so be careful..or your fingers might get scalded by the hot steam..i used a pair of tongs to unwrap the whole thing..
and that’s how the emperor chicken looks like..from the outside..i couldn’t refrain myself from scooping up the beautiful looking sauce pooled around the beautifully steamed bird with a spoon..and oh my..my oh my was it good! if i was alone in the house, i think i would’ve swooped down on the whole bird, stuffing and all, right there and then..
and that’s the stuffing..pull out the toothpick before cutting/chopping the chicken into half..you can eat everything, you know..you don’t havta throw all the cooked stuffing away..ginger’s good for blood circulation, and the wolfberry fruits are very high in antioxidants..parsley..i’m not entirely sure..i just love its super fresh aroma~
and that’s it~ the emperor chicken is GREAT with piping hot white rice, with a side of stir-fried vegetables..we drizzled the delicious sauce all over our rice..the chicken was oh so tender and finger licking good..
hmm..i don’t think a recipe summary is needed for this post, as the photos and instructions are clear enough..besides, not many ingredients are needed at all..um..also, i’m a lil’ lazy..heh~