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Now reading Taiji Chicken Soup

Taiji Chicken Soup

A yin-yang of protein and greens to rebalance you when it's cold.

 

Taiji Chicken Soup

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 t fine-grained salt
  • 1 1/2 C Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 Chicken-Breast Paste
  • 1 t neutral oil (or lard)
  • 2 T potato start mixed with 1/4 C cold water
  • 2 t very finely chopped cooked ham, for garnish

Chicken Stock

  • 1 2" piece ginger, with the skin on
  • 2 scallions, white parts only
  • 1 chicken carcass with the leg bones, wing bones, and neck
  • 1 T Shaoxing wine

Chicken-Breast Paste

  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 2" piece ginger, with the skin on
  • 2 scallions, white parts only
  • 1 C cold water
  • 3/4 t fine-grained salt
  • 1 T potato starch
  • 2 T egg white

Special Equipment

  • + a clean, flexible piece of plastic to make the Taiji shape (I cut a strip from a plastic document folder)

Preparation

Make the Chicken-Breast Paste

Chicken-Breast Paste
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 2" piece ginger, with the skin on
  • 2 scallions, white parts only
  • 1 C cold water
  • 3/4 t fine-grained salt
  • 1 T potato starch
  • 2 T egg white
  1. Place the chicken breast on a wooden board and pummel it with the blunt back of a cleaver blade (or, better, the blunt backs of a pair of cleavers). Keep “chopping” the meat, backward and forward, turning it over and around on the board, until it is reduced to a smooth paste. Then hold the cleaver blade at a close angle to the board and spread the paste out—this will allow you to pick out any white wisps of tendon whole, allowing for a perfectly smooth paste. Place the paste in a bowl.

  2. Smack the ginger and scallion whites with the flat side of the cleaver blade to loosen them, then place in a bowl and add the cold water. Add the salt to the chicken paste and mix well. Then stir in the potato starch and egg white, mixing thoroughly. Strain the ginger-scallion water, discarding the solids. Stir the chicken paste in one direction (it’s easiest to do this with your hand), gradually adding the strained ginger-scallion water until it has all been incorporated. Divide the paste into two equal portions, retaining one for another recipe.

Make the Chicken Stock

Chicken Stock
  • 1 2" piece ginger, with the skin on
  • 2 scallions, white parts only
  • 1 chicken carcass with the leg bones, wing bones, and neck
  • 1 T Shaoxing wine
  1. Smack the ginger and scallion whites with the side of a cleaver blade to loosen their fibers. Bring a large potful of water to boil over a high flame. Add the chicken carcass and boil 2–3 minutes, allowing any impurities to rise to the surface.

  2. Tip the carcass into a colander and rinse thoroughly under the cold tap, discarding the blanching water. Then return the carcass to the pot, cover with fresh water, and bring to boil over a high flame. Skim the impurities from the surface if necessary.

  3. Add the ginger, scallions, and Shaoxing wine. Lower the heat and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Make the Taiji Chicken Soup

Taiji Chicken Soup
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/4 t fine-grained salt
  • 1 1/2 C Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 Chicken-Breast Paste
  • 1 t neutral oil (or lard)
  • 2 T potato start mixed with 1/4 C cold water
  • 2 t very finely chopped cooked ham, for garnish
  1. Place the baby spinach in a sieve and pour a kettleful of boiling water over to wilt it. Refresh the spinach immediately under cold tap water. When completely cool, squeeze out as much water as possible and chop as finely as possible. Set aside.

  2. Add the salt and the Chicken Stock to the chicken paste and mix well to combine. Heat the chicken paste with the oil in a seasoned wok over a high flame, stirring constantly. When it has come to a boil, give the starch mixture a stir and add it, in stages, until the liquid has a thick consistency. Pour most of the liquid into a serving bowl, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the wok.

  3. Add the chopped spinach to the remaining liquid and mix well to incorporate.

  4. Bend your piece of plastic into a yin-yang curve and place it in the serving bowl so its bottom edge is dipped into the soup. Carefully spoon the green chicken soup onto one side of the plastic to create the correct shape. Carefully remove the plastic. Then, use a teaspoon to remove a tiny amount of soup from the white side and drop it into the correct place on the green side, and vice versa. Garnish with a little chopped ham and serve.