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Kacangma chicken

This Hakka confinement dish is very popular in Sarawak. Originally popular among the Chinese, it is gaining traction in other communities as well. Some Hakka families also serve kacangma during Chinese New Year. Dayu’s take on this dish uses langkau instead of Hakka sweet wine, which is the traditional alcohol of choice. Langkau adds a stronger alcohol flavour, heightening the bitter notes in the dish.

Kacangma chicken

by Dayu Pila

This Hakka confinement dish is very popular in Sarawak. Originally popular among the Chinese, it is gaining traction in other communities as well. Some Hakka families also serve kacangma during Chinese New Year. Dayu’s take on this dish uses langkau instead of Hakka sweet wine, which is the traditional alcohol of choice. Langkau adds a stronger alcohol flavour, heightening the bitter notes in the dish.

Servings: 8

Servings: 8

1 whole spring chicken (about 700g), chopped into smaller pieces (remove head, feet, and innards)

15g kacangma leaves, dried

450ml water

½ tbsp sesame oil

150-250ml langkau (to taste)

Salt to taste

 

GINGER PASTE:

100g old ginger, peeled and sliced

60ml water

  1. If the chicken hasn’t been cut up yet, remove the head, feet, and innards. Chop it into parts or bite-sized pieces, and place them into a large bowl.
  2. Place the kacangma leaves in a dry wok (without oil) and turn the heat on to medium. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes until the leaves are fully dry; there should be a crunchy sound when the leaves are stirred.
  3. Immediately place the hot dried leaves into a mortar. Pound the leaves with a pestle until it becomes a powder. Set aside.
  4. To make the ginger paste, blend the sliced old ginger with water until no more chunks remain. Using a strainer, strain the ginger paste into the bowl of chicken. Make sure the ginger juice evenly coats the chicken pieces and set aside. Keep the strained dry ginger paste.
  5. Heat up a wok on medium flame, and add ½ tbsp of sesame oil. Add the strained dry ginger paste and fry for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken to the wok along with the ginger juices. Stir everything well to make sure the chicken is coated evenly with the ginger paste.
  7. Cover the wok and increase the heat to high. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure that the chicken is cooked evenly and the mixture comes to a boil. The chicken will release its own juices.
  8. Pour in 450ml water, cover the wok, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  9. Add the pounded kacangma, cover the wok, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes (no need to stir).
  10. Pour in 150ml of langkau. Stir and taste. The mixture should taste strong, a combination of the spicy ginger, the grassy kacangma, and the alcohol. If needed, add another 100ml of langkau. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until it comes to a boil.
  11. Add salt to taste and stir. Serve with hot white rice.

Tips

  • This dish is also eaten by some Muslim women in confinement. In this case, the alcohol is omitted, which focuses the flavour on the ginger and kacangma instead.
  • Langkau is essentially distilled tuak, making it rather potent.
  • Kacangma leaves and langkau are readily available online (we got ours on Shopee).
  • For a sweeter and less alcoholic flavour, use Hakka white wine or Hakka yellow wine in place of langkau.

Ingredients

1 whole spring chicken (about 700g), chopped into smaller pieces (remove head, feet, and innards)

15g kacangma leaves, dried

450ml water

½ tbsp sesame oil

150-250ml langkau (to taste)

Salt to taste

 

GINGER PASTE:

100g old ginger, peeled and sliced

60ml water

Directions

  1. If the chicken hasn’t been cut up yet, remove the head, feet, and innards. Chop it into parts or bite-sized pieces, and place them into a large bowl.
  2. Place the kacangma leaves in a dry wok (without oil) and turn the heat on to medium. Stir continuously for about 5 minutes until the leaves are fully dry; there should be a crunchy sound when the leaves are stirred.
  3. Immediately place the hot dried leaves into a mortar. Pound the leaves with a pestle until it becomes a powder. Set aside.
  4. To make the ginger paste, blend the sliced old ginger with water until no more chunks remain. Using a strainer, strain the ginger paste into the bowl of chicken. Make sure the ginger juice evenly coats the chicken pieces and set aside. Keep the strained dry ginger paste.
  5. Heat up a wok on medium flame, and add ½ tbsp of sesame oil. Add the strained dry ginger paste and fry for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the chicken to the wok along with the ginger juices. Stir everything well to make sure the chicken is coated evenly with the ginger paste.
  7. Cover the wok and increase the heat to high. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure that the chicken is cooked evenly and the mixture comes to a boil. The chicken will release its own juices.
  8. Pour in 450ml water, cover the wok, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  9. Add the pounded kacangma, cover the wok, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes (no need to stir).
  10. Pour in 150ml of langkau. Stir and taste. The mixture should taste strong, a combination of the spicy ginger, the grassy kacangma, and the alcohol. If needed, add another 100ml of langkau. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes, or until it comes to a boil.
  11. Add salt to taste and stir. Serve with hot white rice.

Tips

  • This dish is also eaten by some Muslim women in confinement. In this case, the alcohol is omitted, which focuses the flavour on the ginger and kacangma instead.
  • Langkau is essentially distilled tuak, making it rather potent.
  • Kacangma leaves and langkau are readily available online (we got ours on Shopee).
  • For a sweeter and less alcoholic flavour, use Hakka white wine or Hakka yellow wine in place of langkau.

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