Aug 16, 2006

Shui He Tian

> Location : Shunde, Guangdong, Mainland China
> Cuisine : Shunde (Chinese)
> Tel. # : N/A
> Website : N/A

According to chinese folk tales, a celestial being name lu dongbing made immortality pills on tiger nose peak (also known as the two finger peak due to its appearance) located in taihe. the completion of the pill led to a celebration with other celestial beings. they celebrated near the "pill making pool" which is within the wushan mountain where the tiger nose peak is at. during their celebration, two wild chickens flew into the pool and ate the immortality pills. after taking the pill, the chickens magically turned into two white phoenix. due to these events, these chickens and others that were bred from them have high medicinal properties because of the immortality pill.

in real life, these chickens are called silky (or silkie) bantam chicken. marco polo supposedly is the first westerner to bring news to the world about silky chicken. originally, they are called taihe chicken (taihe is a county in the jiangxi province of china) and the scientific name is gallus domesticus. they come in a few colors, but the most popular bred is of white feather like in the folk tale. their feathers are very smooth and hold a very attractive appearance compared to other chickens. yet, the most talked about thing when it comes to eating these chickens is the color. their skin, meat and bone is all black. this is the only type of chicken in the world that has this characterisitc. silky chicken are easily managed chickens. you can pretty much call them domestic animals due to their fairly obedient personalities. therefore making them show animals and pets in the western world. another interesting fact is that, silky chicken has five toes compared to four in other chickens.

in chiense medicine, one's health is split into four categories: yin, yang, qi and blood. according to some research, medicinal properties of silky chicken will overall help each of these categories. yang and qi equates to the warmness, activeness and metabolism part of the body. yin and blood refers to the flow, color, and circulation of the body. research also tells us it also helps women especially with gynecological dieases (reproductive problems). silky chicken contains a lot more amino acids and vitamins compared to other chickens such as various vitamin B, C, E, calcium, iron, phosphorous, nicotinic acid, and niacin.

cooking wise, most chinese use silky chicken in herbal soups and stews. usually ginseng being the most commonly used ingredient along with ginger and a red colored seed (i think it's called negla seed). all these extra ingredients plus other forms of combination with chinese herbs and such can help vitalize the body and fight a lot of dieases.

to connect with this little story, there's a really good restuarant around shun de called "siu wuo tian" but before i talk about all this chicken business, i want to share with you some dishes that are commonly good in most chinese restuarants here in southern mainland. and yes you can find all of this at "siu wuo tian" the first dish is braised pork with taro pot. in hong kong, it is hard to find fresh taro unless it is according to season. however, here in the mainland, you pretty much get to eat it fresh (for the most part) whenever you want! the dish is cooked in a special sauce until the taro (a bit firm still on the outside) and the pork is very soft. usually, the pork meat used in this dish contains more fat because that's the whole point of the dish. it is a very tasty (salty but not too salty and a bit sweet) dish and goes nicely with rice. usually, you use your chopstick and pick up a piece of taro and a piece of pork and eat it together like a sandwich. usually, the thing to look for in this dish is the freshness of the taro. if it breaks too easily when you pick it up and it seems watery when you eat it, then it is not fresh. anyways, if you ever get a chance, try it out!

chinese people and steam fish go hand in hand. if you go to chinese restuarants often, i'm sure you've seen steam fish all the time. yet here in the mainland, people tend to like to cut little fillets into the fish but leave the part connecting to the bone intact slightly. after all the parts are fillet, then the fish is steamed. this way, the cooking process is faster and even the eating process is easier too because everything is fillet for you. it is quite an interesting way to have your fish steamed. definitely something everybody should try if they love steamed fish.

lastly and most importantly is the silky chicken. no it's not in a stew or in a soup. it is actually just served like any chicken dish like soy sauce chicken or hannan chicken. because of the lack of burn marks, my best guess is that it is stir fry in a light soup base which in turn gave its taste. some ginseng and negla seeds are added along with some garnish on top. the taste is a saltiness sweet type flavor (the silky chicken already provided some of the sweetness by itself). it is one of the more famous dishes at "siu wuo tian" so yeah, definitely something worth ordering for its taste and of course for its nutritious / medicinal characteristics!

it is another level of rating restuarants here in the mainland. the standard and quality of the food, the skills of the chefs are just totally different. when it comes to chiense food, everything is simply up a notch. until one day i have a good understanding of the "standard" i gotta say "siu wuo tian" is a pretty good restuarant especially the silky chicken they serve. in addition to this, they also have a very good rice porridge. they cook it for so long in very high heat that the rice is broken down to very tiny pieces. anyhow, hope the little story and everything above was informative and entertaining!

< 4 out of 5 >


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