I’ve mentioned before that we have this Sunday arrangement my husband does the cooking on Sundays. There are times when he makes palusot (headache, don’t know what to cook or he just takes us out for the day) but there are occasions when he surprises us with really, really great home-cooked meals. Yesterday was one of those days. I didn’t get to bed until around 4.00 a.m. (working on a big education-related project which I will announce before the end of the month) and when I got up at noon, the stove was on and the aroma of dill and oregano was all over the house. Nothing left for me to do but prepare the sauce to go with his Chinese-style steamed white chicken.
Believe me, when I walked into the kitchen and lifted the cover of the steamer and I saw the sprigs of fresh dill (plucked from our garden) on top of the chicken, I was so proud of Speedy. He had graduated from grilled and fried chicken and pork to something creative and exotic. Doesn’t that look gorgeous? That’s Speedy cutting the split chicken in half before serving it for lunch.
To cook the chicken, split it in half not all the way through but just to open it up. Rub inside and out with salt, pepper, and crushed oregano. Place on a heatproof plate then put the plate in the steamer over briskly boiling water. Top with lots of fresh dill. Steam for about 45 minutes. To test for doneness, pierce the thigh of the chicken with a sharp pointed knife. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done.
The sauce I prepared for the steamed chicken is similar to the kind served with “white chicken” in Chinese restaurants. The only difference is that I used cilantro (also called wansuy or coriander leaves) instead of onion leaves. Peel two thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger and four segments of garlic. Grate them finely (a cheese grater works well). Finely chop a few pieces of cilantro (I used about 10 leaves of Vietnamese coriander). Place the grated ginger and garlic in a bowl. Pour in about half a cup of peanut oil (no substitute). Season with salt (to taste). Stir in the chopped cilantro. Let sit for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.