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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Somen in Pig Maw and Chicken Soup 猪肚鸡汤寿面 #2 - Chinese New Year Series

This is an extension to the previous post by the same name Somen in Pig Maw and Chicken Soup 猪肚鸡汤寿面, or an updated post on that specifically. A tradition of the Hokkien or Putien Henghua people 兴化人, this is what hubby grew up having at home, especially on the many auspicious days we Chinese do celebrate and plenty other normal days in between. A closely related version to the Mee Sua soup 面线汤 that I grew up having at home, the differences between the two lie mainly in the specific type of noodles used and the garnishing that comes with them.

Celebrating the Chinese New Year here in the States this year, I made it a point to bring this into the picture as part of our small celebration. The difference between this and the previous post on somen? Well this post will be an in-depth post on a more elaborated version of the somen, probably one that makes a better replica to my mom-in-law's version. It comes with a little more preparations yes, and a little more time needed for its making in general. Lets just say that the previous post will be what I call the simpler version to this. I'll still settle for that whenever I feel like having somen in a snap on some random days, and I'll go for this on days when I have the little extra time to spare for something a little fancier maybe. Specifically, they differ in terms of...
  • The chicken breast Instead of serving the chicken breast as a whole, I have them out of the pot of soup about an hour before serving and shred them fine.  
  • The greens Previously I had blanched the Chinese mustard green (choy sum) and served them plainly as it is. This time I have them stir fried with some fresh shiitake mushrooms and sliced fish cakes before topping them onto the bowl of somen.
  • The garnishings Mom-in-law's version always come garnished with some crispy fried fried seaweed of some great quality. Not there in my previous post, but it is this time. And yes, it does make a whole lot of difference! lol.
  • The soup In terms of the pig maw and chicken soup, apart from the different types of mushrooms I incorporated this time (button and straw mushrooms as opposed to the enoki previously), they are all otherwise the same. 

Quoting from my previous post on how to clean the pig maw:
1. Trim off any visible fat on the stomach lining.
2. Inverting the stomach cavity, scrape the lining with a butter knife, mainly to remove as much slimy impurities as possible. This is where it takes up most of the time with cleaning a pig maw. So do practice a little patience here, because once this is over, you are pretty much done. Keep the scraping going - rinse occasionally, and repeat all over again. My cue to stop? When you get less and less from scraping, you hold it better with hands (especially with the slime lessening over time) and the smell gets more tolerable.
3. It should be good to go now, but I usually do end mine with a bout of dry rubbing with corn flour in and out to remove whatever it is capable of removing, followed by a good rinse after.
4. Repeat the dry rubbing now with a good amount of sea salt. Rinse with warm water.
5. Blanch the pig maw in a pot of water for a minute or two. The pig maw will appear to set taking the shape of a pouch. Remove from heat and drain.
6. Bring a wok or skillet to heat on high heat. Bring in the pig maw and dry fry it against the wall of wok or skillet (my mom's golden piece of advice - it should further reduce the smell of the pig maw which I indeed find true!). Turn and keep moving the pig maw around the wok or skillet until it dries up and the skin gets slightly browned. Set aside and let cool. When cooled down enough, cut into pieces. Be sure not to slice them into pieces too small. Moderate size always gives better texture (I will recommend pieces measuring about 2"x1"). Set aside.

Somen in Pig Maw and Chicken Soup 猪肚鸡汤寿面 
Serves 4-6

(A) Pig maw and chicken soup
1 whole chicken (~4lb) 
1 pig maw (~1.5lb), cleaned
1 can button mushrooms
1 can straw mushrooms
3 tbsps whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
~7L water
salt to taste

1. Trim the chicken and cut into 8 pieces. I'll have even the skin removed but of course that comes optional. Blanch them briefly in a pot of water and set aside.
2. Bring the 7L of water to boil in a deep stock pot. Bring in the chicken pieces followed by the mushrooms and the white peppercorns (preferably in a wire mesh or a spice bag). Let boil for about 15 minutes before turning the heat down to medium-low. Cover and let simmer away for at least 4 hours.
3. About 3 hours prior to serving, bring in the pig maw pieces and let them simmer away. Add in salt to taste right before serving time.

(B) Shredded chicken
About an hour before serving time, carefully remove the two chicken breast from the pot of soup. Let cool down completely. Shred the chicken breasts and set aside.

(C) Stir fried Chinese mustard green (choy sum)
1lb Chinese mustard green, washed and trimmed into smaller sections, stems and leaves separated
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, briefly wiped clean and thinly sliced
4 pcs tofu fish cakes (or just fish cakes), thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
a pinch of sugar
1/3 cup water
salt and white pepper powder to taste
2 tbsps cooking oil
2 tsps corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water for thickening

1. Heat the cooking oil in the wok on high heat. Once well heated, add in the minced garlic and stir fry until aromatic. Add in the fish cakes next. Stir fry for about a minute. Pushing everyone to one side of the wok, bring the shiitake mushrooms in followed by the light soy sauce and sugar. Pour in the water, give a good stir and cover the work to let simmer for about a minute or two.
2. Add in the the choy sum stems. Stir for about half a minute before adding in the leaves. Add in salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine really well. Keep stir frying until the leaves appear wilted.
3. Thicken the gravy lightly with the corn starch solution. Dish out and set aside.

(D) Hard boiled egg
4-6 hard boiled eggs (one per serving) 
1/2 tsp salt

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Make sure you have enough water to have the eggs fully submerged.
2. When the water has come to a rapid boil, add in the salt. Slowly and carefully lower the eggs, one at a time into the pot.
3. Cover, turn off the heat and let cook for 10 minutes. At the end of it, carefully pour away the hot water and replace it with some cold water. Let cool completely.
4. Crack the eggs and remove the shells. Set aside. 

(E) Crispy fried seaweed
1 pc seaweed (about 1oz), pulled and torn into smaller pieces
enough oil for deep frying

1. Heat a skillet with enough oil for deep frying the seaweed bits.
2. Once well heated, working in batches, add in a handful of seaweed pieces and briefly deep fry for a few seconds.
3. Drain well and let rest on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the rest.

(F) Crispy fried shallots
10 shallots, skin removed
enough oil for deep frying 
a pinch of salt

Have the shallots thinly sliced. Heat up enough oil for deep frying and deep fry the shallots. I have the method better detailed in my previous post on the Homemade Crispy Fried Shallots 香酥红葱头油 .

To assemble
4-6 bundles of somen

1. Cook the somen according to the instructions on the packaging. Divide into individual serving bowls.
2. Ladle in just enough soup with a piece of chicken, some button and straw mushrooms and some pig maw slices.
3. Top with a small handful of shredded chicken breast.
4. Spoon in a heaped tbsp of the stir fried choy sum with some shiitake mushrooms and fish cake slices.

5. Top each individual bowl with a hard boiled egg each.
6. Drop in a small handful of the crispy fried seaweed right in the center.
7. Add in another small handful of the crispy fried shallots.
8. Serve hot with birds eye chilies in soy sauce on the side.

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