Dongbei Poussin and Mushroom Stew

Often called a chicken and mushroom stew, it’s traditionally prepared by the bride’s family on the wedding day, but is very much a popular and everyday dish. The actual preparation only takes 10-15 minutes – then you can just leave it to stew on low heat.  The chicken used in the stew is actually closer to a poussin (you can also use corn-fed chicken though), so that’s what I’ve used here. This was one of my favourite stews from childhood, and as it’s a Chinese dish from Dongbei/Manchuria (in the North East), it has quite strong flavours. Ideally, you’d also use a special type of wild mushroom called hazel mushroom, but it’s pretty much impossible to buy it elsewhere in the world. It’s round, fleshy and quite a small mushroom, so you can try to substitute it with a range of other, similar wild mushrooms.

I tend to like my food slightly spicier (with more chillies peppercorns), so you can tone these down or leave them out altogether if you prefer.

550g poussin (to weight)
400g wild mushrooms (flexible)
1 teaspoon of olive oil
4 chilli pieces
1 knob of ginger
2 stalks of spring onions
3 star anises
10 peppercorns
4 tablespoons of Chinese shaoxing cooking wine
4 tablespoons of soya sauce (light)

Step 1: Wash and chop the chicken, making sure that you cut off the “tail” section (it’s full of fat). Chop to around leg/wing-sized pieces.

Step 2: Heat up the olive oil in a stew pot, and meanwhile, chop 3 slices of ginger, the white part of the spring onion and the chilli pieces into smaller pieces.

Step 3: Once the olive oil has been heated, drop in the white parts of the spring onion, chilli, ginger, peppercorn and star anises into the pot on high heat. Wait for these to sizzle.

Step 4: Put the chicken in! And pour the rice wine on top. Turn the chicken, and heat until the surface of the chicken pieces turns yellow.

Step 5: Chop the mushrooms and put these into the pan.

Step 6: Add the soya sauce and stir.

Step 7: This will depend on your mushrooms. Because I’ve used a lot of wild mushrooms, especially “softer” varieties, there will be a lot of juice from the mushrooms, so no need to add water. If you’ve used a smaller mushroom to chicken ratio, then add enough water just to see the juice from the top of the pot.

Step 8: Close the lid and cook for 30 mins, checking and turning from time to time, until there is no more redness to the chicken and you can see the juice level rising. If in doubt at any point, add a small amount of water. (Add as little as possible, as you want the flavours to be strong!)Step 9: Chop the green parts of the spring onions and sprinkle on top.

Step 10: Close the lid and cook for 5 more minutes. And you’re done!Chinese_poussin_mushroom_stew_14

Of course, you don’t have to use so many chillies or peppercorns, but I’d recommend at least keeping 3-4 peppercorns to get the most flavoursome chicken.

You can also cook noodles (the flat-looking kind) in the broth – you’ll just need to add some veg for a complete meal. Let me know if you try this recipe, and hope you’ll enjoy it!


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