Sunday, October 2, 2016

Chicken and Preserved Lime Soup

chicken and preserved lime
In July I made a batch of chanh muối or preserved limes and have only used them for making drinks but not for cooking. If the limes are well made they will not get moldy and can last indefinitely. This simple chicken and preserved lime soup known in Vietnamese as "gà tiềm chanh muối" is a popular dish in my Teochew family. I don't want to overcook the chicken and dry out the meat so I simmer it for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it cook further for an hour. The preserved lime provides a distinct mild citrus flavor and aroma, unlike any other chicken soups. According to my mother, it is enough to use one lime per chicken. She discourages against cooking the lime too long or over high heat since it may crack and make the broth bitter. This cornish hen is larger than most I have seen despite the label that it is "all natural" and "cage-free". I don't know about you but I prefer my chicken feather-free and clean. Pull out any feathers you see. If your bird has a tail and you want to keep it be sure that the fecal sac is cut out. It is located on top of the tail. Below is a photo of the cleaned bird and you can see that a piece (where the fecal sac once sat) had been sliced off by the tail. For this recipe, I season my broth with 2 teaspoons of fish sauce and 2 teaspoons of salt but as with any dish, I encourage you to adjust the amount according to your taste buds. You can serve the cut chicken separate from the broth or put the cut pieces back into the broth. I prefer to keep the skin on the chicken pieces.

Chicken and Preserved Lime Soup

Ingredients:

One (about 2.2 lbs) cornish hen, cleaned and keep whole
Enough water to submerge the entire hen (I used about 9 cups)
1 whole Chanh Muối (Vietnamese Preserved Limes)
Fish sauce and salt to taste (I used 2 tsp salt and 2 tsp fish sauce)

Method:

Rub the whole hen with salt and water, remove and discard any feathers and fat that you can see, and rinse it clean. Place the hen in a pot (preferably one that is taller than the top of the chicken) breast (thickest part of the bird) down and add the neck if it comes with one. Pour enough water to submerge the whole hen. Keep the pot uncovered. Turn heat to high. Once the water starts to boil turn heat down to a gentle simmer. After 5 minutes add the whole preserved lime. Let everything simmer for another 15 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam or impurities that float to the top. Season the broth with fish sauce and salt. Turn off heat and cover the pot. Let it steep for an hour. Remove the lime and chicken from the pot. Cut up the chicken and serve it with rice and the flavorful broth.

cornish hen--ready to cook

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