Chicken is a must-have on a Chinese family table during Chinese New Year. Traditionally, the chicken should be served whole (along with its head and feet) to symbolise prosperity and togetherness.
Chai Huat Hin commissioned me to create a dish that is interesting and impressive. I decided to make Eight Treasure Chicken - where we have eight different ingredient to fill the chicken and then wrapped it in fragrant lotus leaf.
This dish contains auspicious fillings:
- Mushroom - longevity
- Carrot (胡萝卜/ hong lo bak) - red colour symbolises good luck
- Gingko nut - wealth as the shape of the nut looks like silver ingot
- Lotus seeds - prosperity with many offsprings
- Water chestnut - symbolises unity
The other ingredients like Chinese sausage and liver sausage give it a boost of flavour.
- A sink or a big enough bowl to soak lotus leaf
- Wok + steam rack + cover (for cooking fillings and steaming chicken)
- Knife + chopping board
Eight Treasure Chicken
- 1.5 kg whole chicken (cleaned and pat dry)
- 1 large piece of lotus leaves (soaked overnight and boiled until softened)
- 1 ½ tbsp salt
- 3 tbsp of oil
- 1/2 tbsp thick soy sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 piece Chinese sausage, diced
- 1 piece liver sausage, diced
- 1 cup diced mushroom, soaked
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup fresh gingko nut
- 2 tbsp dried lotus seeds, soaked
- 8 pieces chestnut, soaked and boiled until softened
- 3 pieces of water chestnut, diced
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- Soak lotus leaves overnight and boil until softened
- Step 1 MARINADE CHICKEN: Rub chicken with 1 ½ tbsp of salt. Mix marinade in a bowl and brush over chicken. Leave the chicken in the fridge to marinade overnight
- Step 2 MIX SEASONINGS: In a bowl, mix seasoning.
- Step 3 FRY FILLINGS: Heat oil and stir-fry garlic until fragrant. Add in sausages and mushrooms, fry until fragrant. Pour in carrots, lotus seeds, and chestnut. Fry for a while. Add gingko nut, water chestnut, and seasonings, and stir-fry until all ingredients are mixed well.
- Step 4 BRAISE FILLINGS: Pour in water and braise until water evaporates.
- Step 5 STUFF & WRAP CHICKEN: Fill stuffing into the chicken cavity and secure with toothpicks. Wrap chicken in the soaked lotus leaf.
- Step 6 STEAM CHICKEN: Steam chicken for 1 hour or until cooked.
- Step 7 SERVE: Unwrapped lotus leaf and serve.
- Buy free-range kampung chicken This chicken is fed with food like yellow beans which gives the chicken a nice yellow sheen instead of the pale, white colour
- Make the filling ahead and freeze. You can make the superior stock (for Braised Sea Cucumber and Abalone), Golden Dried Oyster Rolls, and this filling ahead. Freeze it in a container. On morning of Chinese New Year eve, take it out of the freeze and leave it in the chiller to defrost.
- Omit the lotus leaf if you like The lotus leaf impart a pleasant fragrance and makes it looks attractive. However, it its too troublesome, you can omit using it. Steaming the chicken without the lotus leaf is fine too.
Instead of the usual steamed whole chicken, why not try this auspicious eight treasure chicken wrapped in fragrant lotus leaves?