Citizens, as noted in My exhaustive post on the 58 styles of Chinese cuisine – there are Eight main regional cuisines, or Eight Great Traditions (八大菜系) in Chinese cuisine:
Anhui(安徽菜), Cantonese（广东菜）, Fujian（福建菜）, Hunan（湖南菜）, Jiangsu（江苏菜）, Shandong（山东菜）, Sichuan（四川菜）, and Zhejiang（浙江菜）.
Anhui cuisine (Hui Cai for short), is one of the eight most famous cuisines in China, but is the least rarely seen outside of its native region. It consists of three styles: Yangtze River region（沿江）, Huai River region（沿淮）, and southern Anhui region（皖南）.
The highly distinctive characteristic of Anhui cuisine lies not only in the elaborate choices of cooking materials but also in the strict control of the entire cooking process.
Anhui cuisine is known for its use of wild herbs, from both the land and the sea, and simple methods of preparation. Braising and stewing are common cooking techniques. Frying and stir frying are used much less frequently in Anhui cuisine than in other Chinese culinary traditions.
Anhui has ample uncultivated fields and forests, so the wild herbs used in the region’s cuisine are readily available.
Anhui cuisine chefs pay more attention to the taste, color of dishes and the temperature to cook them, and are good at braising and stewing. They are experts in cooking delicacies from both the mountains and the sea.
Anhui dishes preserve most of the original taste and nutrition of the recipe ingredients. Generally, the food here is slightly spicy and salty. Some master dishes are stewed in brown sauce with a stress on heavy oil and sauce. Ham is often added to improve the taste and sugar “candy” is added to gain “freshness”.
To showcase an Anhui recipe I turn to my dear friend Carolyn Phillips! As the undisputed Queen of Chinese cuisine writing in English, she has much to say about this particular recipe:
Anhui’s is none other than the famed Fuliji Poached Chicken (Fujili shao ji), which is a direct descendants of one of Shandong’s greatest poultry dishes, Five Fragrance Fall-Off-The-Bone-Tender Braised Chicken (Wuxiang tuogu paji).
In many ways this is an extravagant dish because it is fried in toasted sesame oil, and the blast of its mouthwatering fragrance will wake up your appetite with a roar. The skin caramelizes as it fries thanks to the thick sugary goo called maltose.
This deep brown chicken is finally set down into a pot of herbal goodness (TFD note – these herbs are extraordinarily healing!) that will add other layers of delectable aromas to this fragrant cloud. The good news about all this prep and cost is that both the oil and the poaching broth can be used a couple of more times as long as they are properly stored, so consider them savory investments.
Serve this chicken as a starter at either room temperature or just slightly warmed. You will want to chill the chicken after it is done because it is so tender that it cannot be cut up without falling apart. So, let it come to room temperature, cover it and chill it overnight, and then cut it into pieces the next day. This is a great party food, as it can be done in steps many days ahead of time, and it freezes beautifully.
My recipe is based very closely on hers, though I have added back in the authentic herbs and spices that she by necessity had to leave out for her readers. By the way, her new book “All Under Heaven” is by far the most exhaustive study of the many styles of Chinese cuisine ever written in English – if you are at all serious about true Chinese cooking!
Citizens, I recognize this is a dish you may not ever be able to make unless there is a Chinatown near you – but if there is, by all means you MUST try this fantastic and rarely-tasted delicacy of Anhui! I have included the poaching herbs and spices in Mandarin for you to take to a Chinatown herbalist – they should have all the needed ingredients there! If not, just leave out the missing ingredient(s).
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
The Hirshon Anhui Fried And Poached Chicken – 符離集燒雞
- Total Time: 0 hours
- Poaching broth:
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup Shaoxing rice wine
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 10 grams cinnamon
- 15 grams of Chinese yellow rock sugar
- 10 grams dried tangerine peel
- 4 grams fennel seeds
- 9 grams star anise
- 2 grams cumin
- 20 grams ginger
- 3 grams nutmeg
- 3 grams Sand Ginger sheet
- 2 grams Black Cardamom
- 3 grams Cloves
- 5 grams Angelica
- 3 grams Grass Fruit
- 6 grams Magnolia
- 5 grams Peppercorns
- 5 grams Sichuan Peppercorns
- 桂皮10克，特級黃冰糖15克，陈皮10克，4克茴香种子 , 八角9克，小茴香2克，姜20克， 肉蔻3克，山奈片3克，砂仁2克，丁香3克，白芷5克，草果3克，辛夷6克 , 花椒5克，花椒5克，饴糖，芝麻油 。
- For the Chicken:
- One fryer chicken (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed, rinsed, and patted very dry
- 1/2 cup maltose
- 4 cups roasted sesame oil
- Toss all of the poaching broth ingredients together in a large, narrow pot like a pasta pot; it should be just wide enough to hold the chicken. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then allow them to simmer while you prepare the chicken.
- Pat the chicken all over again with a paper towel to ensure that the skin is dry and tacky, since the maltose will glide off of any wet areas. Fold the wings underneath themselves so that they lie flat against the body, and tie the legs together along with the tail so that you have a nice, tight, football-shaped chicken; this will help keep any pieces from burning and allow all of the chicken to brown evenly.
- Melt the maltose until it is runny, place the chicken on a clean plate, and then use a pastry brush to complete coat the chicken with the syrup. If the maltose starts to harden because of the cold chicken, just reheat it as needed.
- Heat the oil in a wok until a wooden or bamboo chopstick inserted in the oil immediately bubbles all over. Do not drop any moisture into the oil after this point, as it will explode and possibly burn you.
- Gently lower the chicken into the oil and carefully turn it over and around in the hot oil so that all of the surfaces are a deep, mahogany brown.
- I like to use two bamboo tongs to do this, as they can be shoved into the top and bottom cavities, be used to prop up the chicken as it browns on a wobbly side, and even flip it up on its end. Try not to use metal spatulas, which will tear the skin. If the skin does tear in places, or if it sticks to the wok, don’t worry, as the chicken will be chopped up before serving and no one will be the wiser.
- When the chicken is completely browned, gently lower it into the poaching broth and add water, if needed, to cover the chicken. Bring the broth to a boil and then lower the heat to the lowest setting, which should give you a very, very slow simmer.
- Cover the pot and allow the chicken to gently poach for about 2 hours, then turn off the heat and let the chicken rest in the covered pot until the broth is warm, at least 2 hours. Use a wide strainer or spatula to help you carefully lift the chicken out of the broth and onto a plate – use extreme care, as it will fall apart easily.
- Drain any liquids back into the pot, let the chicken come to room temperature, and then chill it for at least 4 hours or overnight. Chop into pieces and serve at room temperature or slightly warm; no sauces or accompaniments are needed.
- Note: The frying oil may be strained, refrigerated, and used again, and the poaching liquid can be strained and frozen.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
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