Monday, July 14, 2008
Native Chicken in Four-Herb (Sibut) Soup
I am very honored when Katie of A Merrier World invited me to join her food event: Let Them Eat Chicken. This event aims to raise awareness about the broiler rearing systems of commercial chickens, and help us make informed food choices. Please check out her site if you want to learn where your chicken comes from. She gave an informative post on this topic.
For some time now, I have been aware that our commercially available chicken - the chicken meat we serve on the dinner table are called 45-day chickens. These chickens reach the desired weight and size by 45 days, hence the name. They are fed with anti-biotic laced poultry food mix. They are kept in unsanitized cages, where light, heat and ventillation are controlled to limit movement and maximize weight gain. I have also heard that often times they are deliberately made blind or crippled so that the chickens in the cage will not fight, or hurt each other (lest their meat be bruised.)
Truly sad. But we have accepted the reality that these chicken were bred specifically to satisfy our demand for meat, healthy meat at that. Since everybody considers white chicken meat a good source of complete protein (without the skin, of course, which is full of cholesterol.) But if you think about it, how healthy could they be if they are eating artificially prepared food laced with anti-biotics? Would we not ingest these things as well?
Another sad reality is that in this city, in most markets and supermarkets, only commercial white chicken are available. If I need a native chicken (this is what we call the free-range chicken), which we consider healthier and more nutritious, I have to go to a specialty market in downtown Manila (quite far, and heavily congested) or to weekend markets where farmers from the provinces come up and display their goods - only during weekends.
I remember when I was still a young girl, my grandmother would often buy a native chicken, dress it herself and cook it in soups. Maybe the native free-range chickens were more available then, since farms are closer before. Now that more and more agricultural land near mega-Manila are being converted to cities or industrial use, the farms are getting farther and farther. Hence, we have less access to native chickens.
Grandma would usually cook the native chicken in soup because their meat is tougher, and would take a long time to get tender. She believes that the native chicken is very nutritious and very flavorful. (Just proves grandmas know better.) If we add herbs to the native chicken, and then simmer the soup for a long time, the healthy benefits will increase. So, more often than not, we would get Chicken Soup with Chinese Herbs. I would usually associate this nourishing soup with my grandmother. So, whenever my own family now is experiencing some stress or if we need some nourishment for the whole body, I would go out and hunt down a good native free-range chicken (from the specialty market, of course :) and serve this comforting soup to my family.
This is Grandma's favorite Chinese herb formula composed of these four herbs designed to invigorate the blood, and nourish the whole body. I think these herbs are readily available in Asian markets, and Chinese groceries.
Angelica Sinensis or Tang Gui. this root tonifies and invigorates the blood.
Ligusticum/Cnidium or Chuan Xiong. this root also improves the blood as well as alleviates pain, so sometimes it is used for treating headaches.
Peony Alba or Bai Shao. the root of the peony plant can be used to treat various blood imbalances, poor blood circulation. It is used to stop bleeding and prevent miscarriages.
Chinese Foxglove/Rehmannia or Shu Di. This is blood and yin-tonifying root that is used to treat symptoms of pallid face, palpitaions, insomnia, excessive bleeding, night sweating, dizziness and irregular mentruation.
1 whole native or free range chickens, (around 1 kilo,) chopped to serving sizes
5 slices ginger
5 T minced garlic
1 pc Shu Di or Chinese foxglove
2 pcs Tang Gui or Angelica Sinensis
several pieces of Chuan Xiong or Ligusticum
several pieces of Bai Shao or Peony Alba
a handful of Chinese wolfberry or Guo Qi Zi
8 C water
salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the chicken pieces very well. Wash the Chinese herbs too. Set aside.
2. Heat up some oil in a big pot. Saute the ginger and garlic until fragrant but not burnt. Add the chicken pieces. Stir fry for a while until the meat changes color.
3. Add the water. Let boil. When it boils, add all the Chinese herbs. Simmer until tender, around 2 hours.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dish up. Serve hot.
Alternately, you can put all the ingredients in a crockpot or slow cooker. Cook it in the morning and when you come home, you already have a warm, nutritious, and nourishing soup waiting for you!
Please check out Kate's A Merrier World in a few days to see many different ways we can cook the nutritious native chicken. We should start making healthier choices for ourselves and our family.