The thing I like best about the rainy season is that the cooler temperature lends itself to the consumption of soups and savory-rich dishes. A warm, aromatic bowl of soup becomes a restorative pleasure, and having to stay indoors suddenly doesn’t seem to be a bad idea, after all.
I chanced upon this recipe in some blog, but I forgot to bookmark it. Darn! The author, a Korean living in the US, was talking about missing her mom’s Ginseng Chicken Soup. She set about cooking the dish herself to ease away the homesickness and perhaps cure a variety of real or imagined ailments.
I loved the idea of stuffing a small chicken with spices and letting it boil down into a tender, pure-chicken broth. It’s best to get a smaller chicken, preferably even less than a kilo so that the flavor is stronger. Native, free-range chicken is ideal, if you can get it. I imagined the glutinous rice to be a warm, sticky, spice-infused yumminess. I never forgot the basic principle of this dish, and like the author who was homesick, I set out to create this dish myself. I didn’t have ginseng on hand, so I figured ginger will work, since I like ginger anyway. I added in the mushrooms for their earthy, nutty flavor, and as a succulent complement to the chicken.
The result was a dish that pleased. The broth was clear but quite savory, the chicken meat tender and very clean tasting. Simmering the dish for at least an hour cooks the rice wonderfully, and gives it the consistency of a creamy risotto.
This is one of those assemble-in-a-pot-and-then-walk-away types of dishes, so it’s easy to pull off. Even if you’re feeling a wee bit under the weather. Recipe below, get cooking!
* Don’t mind the potato in the photo. I just put it in there to cook for my son, who likes potatoes.
Chicken Stuffed with Sticky Rice
(ala Korean Ginseng Chicken)
1 kilo spring chicken (young native chicken is best)
½ cup glutinuous rice (malagkit rice)
Salt, to taste
Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 coriander seeds
3-4 fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 thumb-sized ginger, crushed
3-4 wild mushrooms, washed and left whole
2 stalks spring onions, cut diagonally
1 liter water (to start). More if needed to cover chicken.
Wash chicken thoroughly, then pat dry. Rub the cavity of the chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper, making sure to coat insides well. Pour in ½ cup glutinous rice into the cavity. Insert coriander seeds, fennel seeds, garlic cloves, ginger, and onion wedges. Put in the mushrooms, taking care not to break them. Seal the cavity by pulling the skin over the opening and securing with a toothpick.
Place the chicken inside a tall, roomy pot. Pour in water until chicken is almost fully covered. Make sure the chicken floats and does not touch the bottom of the pot. This may seem like a lot of water, but it will boil away. You may need to add more later if you want lots of soup. Cover and wait for the water to boil, then reduce heat to the lowest setting. Simmer covered for at least 1 hour, up to 1 ½ hours.
The chicken is done once the meat on the legs begins to pull away from the bone. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings if necessary. I’ve cooked this dish three times and did not need to re-season, as the broth is meant to be delicate, but savory.
Remove from heat, transfer to a big serving bowl and sprinkle with the spring onions. Split the breast cavity to release the fragrant, steaming rice inside.