Monday, March 23, 2015

Black Chicken with Cogon Grass Soup

Black chickens are called black not because their feathers are black (the live ones I've seen have white "furry" feathers) but because their skin, beaks, innards, bones, flesh are almost black in color.  They are prized in Chinese cooking for their curative or healing value.  They are considered generally healthier (to the consumer) than regular chickens.  They have less calories, fat and cholesterol, and they have more anti-oxidants, protein, vitamin B and minerals!  In particular, it is said that the herbal benefits of this chicken is that of alleviating headaches (and migraines?) so I am particularly interested (I was recently diagnosed with having severe migraines!

The traditional way (that I know) of cooking black chicken is by way of Sibot soup, which uses a mixture of 4 or 5 Chinese herbs in the soup.  That was how my mom cooked black chickens, and the soup, as my mom claimed, had great curative value.  But ever since learning that consuming sibot was not so favorable to persons with high blood pressure (which my mom and B's lola both are), I decided to cook my black chicken in a different, more simple (basic) soup.

Truth is, I have never cooked black chicken soup before, simply because I don't know where to buy one!  But a couple of weeks ago, a friend gave me one - it seems that they raise some black chickens (organic at that!) for their own consumption and I was a lucky recipient of one!

My mom always told me that to make a great chicken soup, the (cleaned) whole chicken should be placed in about 10 cups of water with lots of ginger.  The whole pot was then heated to boiling, after which the soup was to be simmered for about an hour over low to low-medium heat.  As per my mom's instructions, salt was not to be added (if at all) until after an hour of simmering.  Unfortunately, I do not know the reason/s for these instructions (my mom is great at giving instructions but not so good at explaining the reasons), what I do know is that they just work! 

So that's what I did!  But instead of the sibot herbs, I just added dried scallops, shiitake mushrooms and fresh cogon. 

The soup was sweet-ish, perhaps due to the lack of salt, but it was quite tasty (at least to me!)  The black chicken meat was a bit dry and stringy, or so I thought.  Then again, given its health benefits, dry and stringy meat is not so important.

(Now, where can I buy dressed black chickens???)

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