Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A 2-in-1 Post - Chicken with Red Rice Wine Yeast

My dear hubby is a Foochow, I am a Cantonese (the Foochows and Cantonese people are different dialect groups of ethnic Chinese whose early ancestors migrated to Malaysia).  However, in all our years of marriage, he has never requested me to cook any Foochow dishes.

As i think back, I realised I have never cooked anything even remotely 
close to Foochow food.  Yes, I have been quite naughty.  I only cook the food I like, and simply assume that hubs would like it too. :p.  

So, as we notch up our 10th year of marriage this December, i thought it's about time i get my wok dirty with some classic Foochow dishes.  But out of curiousity, i asked hubby the other day why he has never requested for any Foochow dishes.  His reply was classic - "You know how to cook Foochow food meh?" That's the legal eagle in him.  Answer a question with another question.

For my non Malaysian readers, that is a very colloquial conversational sentence (tinged with a slight dose of sarcastic humour) which means "that's because you do not know how to cook any."  Eeeks.  But what made me heave a big sigh of relief was not what he said, but what he didn't say.  Thankfully he didn't follow up with a "so can you learn to cook some from now on?"  Whew!

Like they say, if you force someone to do something, chances are the person will not want to do it.  Better to back off and let time/nature/prayer? takes its course.  So now, ten years on, I am finally game enough to cook something closer to home for dear hubs (maybe he has been secretly praying :P).  Better late than never yes? :)

Chicken with Red Rice Wine is probably the most well known Foochow dish.  I am not a fan of rice wine based dishes, but over the years, have grown to acquire a taste for this.  It is also very much a comfort food for Foodchows, served both at home as a regular family meal as well as at special occassions.  

My MIL (who else!) gave me a jar of gloriously blood red homemade rice wine yeast, together with a bottle of red rice wine, sourced from the Foochow heartland of a Foochow home in Ayer Tawar.  I called this post a 2-in-1 simply because i made extra, and cooked the dish firstly in a semi-dry braised style with the red yeast only, and then on the next day "evolved" it into a mee suah with soup.  Kill two birds with one stone. 

The red rice wine yeast

Red rice wine.  Almost finished, need to ask MIL to get me 
another bottle. Most homemade ones will recycle the old soy
sauce bottles to keep this. 

I first did the braised version because I wanted to get my son to try this, so a non-alcohol version would be more palatable for him.  Surprisingly he liked it, so i quickly fed him a good portion of rice drenched with some red goodness before he changed his mind!

The next day I added the rice wine into the dish and made it into a broth with some mee suah.  I also threw in some wood ears for extra nutrients (good for reducing cholesterol).  Hubs and I polished it off as a hearty lunch. 

2-in-1: Braised Chicken with Red Rice Wine Yeast, then Mee Suah with Red Rice Wine Broth

A. Braised Chicken with Red Rice Wine Yeast
Serves 4 - 5
  • 700g chicken legs, skin off, rinsed, pat dry and cut into chunks
  • 3 pieces of black fungus, soaked and cut into slices
  • 5 dried chinese mushroom, soaked, discard the stem and cut into slices
  • Marinade :
    • 1 1/2 tblspn of red rice wine yeast
    • 1 tsp of finely grated ginger (and juice)
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • Generous pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tblsp of sesame oil
  • 1/2 tblsp of normal cooking oil
  • 5 slices of ginger, finely slided
  • 2 fat pips of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tblsp of sugar
  • Dash of soy sauce

1.  Marinade the chicken pieces with all the ingredients and set aside for 1 hour.

2.  Heat the sesame oil and cooking oil together until very hot, and fry the ginger slices and garlic until golden brown and turning crispy.

3.  Add in the chicken meat with the marinade and fry on high heat until the meat loses its pinkish colour.  Add in the black fungus and mushroom, and toss until evenly coated.

4.  Add in 1 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Turn down the fire and let simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occassionally to prevent the meat from sticking at the bottom.

5.  Season with sugar, a dash of soy sauce and additional salt if necessary.  The gravy should be on the sweet side, with a savoury aftertaste.  Serve with hot steam rice. 

B.  Mee Suah with Chicken and Red Rice Wine Broth 
Serves 2

  • 2 cups of leftover Braised Chicken with Red Rice Wine Yeast
  • 1/2 cup red rice wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
  • Additional sugar and salt
  • 2 big spirals of dried mee suah

1.  Heat up the remaining braised chicken in a deep pot or casserole.

2.  Add in the rice wine, water, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 3 minutes.

3.  Adjust the taste.  The broth should be on the sweet side.  Add additional rice wine if you like it on the strong side.  Depending on your preferred level of saltiness, make it just a tad less salty as the mee suah is already salty and will add to the saltiness of the broth.

4.  To cook the mee suah, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Drop the dried mee suah into the hot water and keep stirring to loosen the strands.  Test for doneness by biting a short strand. The texture should feel just soft, do not overcook. Drain and serve onto a bowl and pour the broth and meat over it.  Serve immediately. Do not let the mee sit in the broth as it will soaked up all the broth and become one big sodden lump.

The small bowl for me..

..and the big bowl for the Foochow man

I am submitting this to the Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak month,


  1. Esther, reverse psychology works eh? There is a restaurant near my office that specialise in Foochow food and this red rice wine features quiet prominently. I have been wanting to visit the restaurant to taste the food but haven't got to it. Your dishes look very appetizing. But where can I get this red rice wine? Your MIL can share recipe, kah?

    1. PH, you work in / near Damansara Kim? I know of a foochow restaurant there, we have tried their signature dishes, but um...didnt think they were very good :p my MIL doesnt make her own rice wine yeast, she just got plenty of "suppliers" kakaka. Lemme check with Kelly Siew below.

    2. Yah, that's the one! Well, since you say its not that good then, heh..heh...perhaps not worth trying then :)

    3. Woopsie! Well, we felt the food was kinda watered down. Maybe it has improved now...:p.

  2. I love Red wine mee sua/chicken! Too bad I ran out of the paste/wine before September so I can't submit the entry until a new batch is done.... which will take a few more days....

    Some foochow dishes are easy to learn! Maybe you could take a look at some of the ones I've cooked and try them? Surprise your hubby? hehehe

    1. Kelly, sounds like you know how to make homemade rice wine yeast. Can share recipe? :) yes, i will definitely look up your blog on more foochow dishes. Thanks ya!

    2. Yeah the rice wine yeast is not hard to make if you have the recipe. I'll take proper pictures and blog about it soon!

  3. Esther, your hubby must be so proud of you! Love the red wine chicken mee suah, its not easy to find a good place selling this but I don't know if I will even know how to make my own!

    1. Thanks Mich! Do try making this, its quite easy actually. Very much comfort food.

  4. Esther, this looks so good! I also want to be your Hubby for a day! LOL. ;P

    1. Hahaa, thanks Yen. i am sure you can cook just as good if not a better version :)

  5. Hi Esther! Ohhh this looks delicious! Only condiments that I'm not sure of is red rice wine yeast. I'm going to ask my husband about this tonight! Have a great weekend!

    1. Yes I'm sure your husband would know about this. You should be able to get this from those Chinese grocery shops in Chinatown, just show them the picture :) hv a good weekend Nami :)

  6. Hi Esther, this look delicious, I can have 2 bowls no problem. LOL
    I love the mee suah, yum yum. Yours look good and you take beautiful pictures.

    But long time no eat this cos now I use golden raisin to made wine instead of glutinous rice.

    Have a nice day.

    1. Wow, you make your own wine as in raisin wine? Hw interesting! Ps blog about that so we can learn new things :)

  7. Hi Esther, this is a lovely dish which I had prepared before. Like your way, I served it with rice, flour vermicelli and also yellow noodles. All are yummy and I believe the black fungus is to counter the fatty side of this dish. Also, this dish taste better the next day.

  8. Hi Kimmy, thanks for dropping by. yea, i remembered my braised dish tasted more intense the next day, which helped the soup broth to be more flavourful.

  9. Hi Esther, forgotten to share with you this. I tried making Char Siew with this red wine residue. Give it a try and see whether your hubby likes it.

  10. Ooo i like the sound of that! Just marinade with the yeast and cook? Any other ingredients to go into the marinade?

  11. Hi Esther, I prepared this dish and posted the recipe in September 2012. Really loved this dish.

  12. Try this stall at coffee shop at chai chee off upper changi rd, opposite Decathlon sport shop,the red wine chicken mee sua very good


Feel free to leave your comments here. If you are not a blogger, just select profile and choose "Name/URL", fill in your name and leave the URL blank. Thanks and hope you enjoy the postings here, or better still, get to try some new recipes from here. Cheers!