"Ubiquitous throughout Yunnan, this classic chicken soup is superb because of its ingenious cooking method. The secret lies in the qi guo, the unique Yunnan ceramic pot with a tapered cone or chimney in the centre. A heavy lid fits snugly over the pot and it is set over a saucepan over boiling water. Steam rises through the chimney and condenses under the lid before falling into the pot, creating a heavenly, nourishing consommé. You can make the soup without this steam pot by simply steaming the soup in a covered bowl over a saucepan. The poor man's ginseng and astragalus huang qi are said to combat ageing, but you can always make a simpler version with ginger, soy, rice wine and dried shiitake and it'll be delicious."
- 1 litre chicken stock (4 cups)
- 1 kg skinless chicken thigh fillets, coarsely chopped
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 250ml hot water for 20 minutes
- 2 thick slices ginger
- 2 tbsp dried longan (see note)
- 2 tbsp goji berries
- ½ cup dried Chinese dates (see note)
- 3 pieces poor man’s ginseng (see note)
- 4 pieces astragalus huang qi (see note)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1Simmer chicken stock in a large saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 750ml (10-20 minutes).
- 2Drain shiitake (reserve soaking liquid) and remove stems (discard). Combine all ingredients in a Yunnan pot (see note above) or large bowl that will fit nicely over a saucepan. Cover with a lid or with foil, place over a saucepan half-filled with water and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Steam until very fragrant (2 hours), topping up saucepan with boiling water as needed. Serve hot.
Note Dried longan, dried Chinese dates (jujubes), poor man's ginseng (Codonopsis pilosula) and astragalus huang qi (Astralagus propinquus) are available from Chinese grocers, sometimes in the form of a packet of tonic soup mix. The cooking time may vary depending on the flow of steam and the age of your chicken.
Drink Suggestion: Nutty medium-dry amontillado Sherry. Drink suggestion by Max Allen