Recipe: Ling Chen’s Poached Chicken (Bak Chit Gai)

INGREDIENTS

  • Chicken stock (with 4 smashed ginger slices and 2 whole scallions)  enough to cover chicken, usually about 4 cups or more
  • Whole chicken1 (ideally 3 lb) – washed, loose fat removed and set aside
  • Ginger – enough for four thick unpeeled slices for stock and at least 3 TBSP peeled & grated for sauce, about 4-5” knob
  • Scallions – 2 whole for stock and at least 3 TBSP of minced white part w/ a touch of the light green part minced, for colour, about 1 bunch
  • Grapeseed or avocado oil – almost 4 TBSP, enough to mix with desired quantity of ginger/ scallions (equal parts) to make a paste, roughly about 2/3 of the amount of ginger/ scallion
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash chicken, remove anything loose inside, pat dry and rub with salt.  After 5 minutes rinse off salt and leave chicken to drain.
  2. Bring stock with ginger slices and scallions to boil.
  3. Lower chicken gently into boiling stock to cover, breast side up
  4. Reduce heat to medium and bring stock with chicken back to rolling boil, in uncovered pot.  (Gentler heat is better – more tender – and will require less standing time in the liquid off the burner afterwards).
  5. Turn off heat (not remove from) and keep covered and undisturbed for 30 – 60 mins
  6. Check after 30 mins by inserting skewer into thigh – it’s done when the small puncture draws clear liquid (or to temp of 165° – which is too much for chicken breast in my opinion)
  7. Remove bird from pot (with wooden spoon inserted into cavity so as not to break the skin),  rub skin with sesame oil and place in freezer2  for ten minutes to stop cooking process.
  8. Transfer to cutting board and remove the back by cutting with poultry shears up either side of the tail (set aside for private nibbling or to add to mother stock – I always eat the tail, yum!).  Slice off legs and wings, and split breast in half, before cutting all cleanly Chinese style, with a cleaver.3
  9. Lay out on platter in the shape of a whole, flattened chicken.  Serve with finely trimmed green part of scallions (slightly curled)* and with dipping sauce.  Your chicken may have a slight pink tint to it which is normal – it IS cooked!  If this grosses out your guests, cook it longer in the poaching liquid.
  10. Reserve (freeze) stock for next time – the richer it gets, the more flavour for your chicken, until you want to use your stock for soup!
  11. Use (freeze) reserved chicken fat for cooking rice or stir frying vegetables – yumm!

Dipping Sauce:

  1. Grate or finely mince peeled ginger and white part of scallions (1:1 ratio) with small amount of light green part for colour, and place in heatproof bowl. Do by hand for the right texture or if you are good with the food processor, pulse the mixture carefully to avoid excess liquid or becoming mushy.
  2. Heat oil until almost smoking, and then pour into minced ginger/ garlic mixture and mix well. (I prefer to do this rather than sautéing the mix, however briefly, because I don’t want to cook them, just warm them and release the flavours.)
  3. Stir in enough salt to make sauce more than seasoned

INSTANT  POT  VERSION:

  1. Place chicken piece in single layer in IP.
  2. Just cover with chicken broth/ ginger/ scallion mixture
  3. Close and seal vent, Manual High Pressure 8 minutes, natural release 15 mins. or Manual High Pressure 9 minutes / Quick Release
  4. Place pieces on tray or plate and rub with sesame oil; place in freezer for 10 mins
  5. Continue with above step 8 onward

1As we prefer dark meat I just use chicken thighs if it is just for us; the only real reason to use a whole chicken would be cost and to recreate the whole chicken on the platter
2 prefer to do this rather than the usual method of putting into an ice bath, to avoid stripping the chicken of any flavours absorbed during cooking.
3To avoid slippage, bone splintering and flying chicken from ill placed cuts, I position the cleaver at the cut location and hit with a rubber mallet.
4Grating the ginger rather than finely mincing it is more of a hassle but extremely rewarding in taste as the finer texture allows for more subtle and integrated flavour

Olympus EM10 Mark II tips

Robin Wong’s Cheat Sheet
[Camerlab tips here]
Tips by Travis

Electronic Shutter

The EM10 Mark II offers mechanical shutter range from 60 seconds to 1/4000 and the shutter sound itself is a satisfying click that’s not too loud. By default the EM10 II employs a mechanical curtain at the front and end of exposures.

If you prefer complete silence you can enable the Electronic Shutter option, indicated by a heart icon on the Drive menu. In addition to operating silently, the electronic shutter extends the maximum shutter speed to 1/16000, giving you two more stops of exposure control over the mechanical shutter – handy if you’re shooting with large apertures under bright conditions or want to freeze the fastest action.

Electronic shutters are great for silence and avoiding vibrations, but due to the readout speed of most sensors, they’re not suitable when the subject – or camera – are in motion as the image can suffer from undesirable skewing artefacts – something I noticed on the EM10 II with only modest motion. They can also suffer from banding under some artificial lighting, but if you’re careful they can still prove useful in discreet environments.

Anti-Shock Shutter

Like the EM1, there’s also a variety of Anti Shock options which employ an electronic first-curtain shutter and a variety of delays to reduce the potential impact of the shutter causing unwanted vibrations. The shortest delay is zero seconds, which makes the Anti Shock mode practical for normal handheld use.

Note the Anti Shock mode can still suffer from skewing artefacts if the camera or subject are moving at speed (something I confirmed myself), so Olympus only offers it up to speeds of 1/320. Beyond this, shutter shock is no longer a big issue so the camera reverts to its mechanical shutter to avoid any potential artefacts. Ultimately like the full electronic shutter, I’d recommend experimenting with Anti Shock under a variety of situations to see where it could work for you and where the benefit is out-weighed by potential artefacts.

Focus Bracketing

Once enabled, the Focus Bracketing mode switches the EM10 II to high speed capture and the electronic shutter. It starts at the current focus position and gradually focuses further away during the sequence, so you have to ensure you’re initially focused on the nearest part of the subject rather than its middle. A typical 100-frame burst takes about three seconds and during the capture you’ll see the band of focus gradually receding into the distance, hopefully reaching the end of your subject; some trial and error will be necessary. Also note the electronic shutter can be susceptible to banding from artificial lighting if you’re using shutters that aren’t evenly divisible by their frequency. Probably more annoying though is the fact you can’t trigger the process using a self-timer or over Wifi from the app, so to avoid touching and wobbling the camera you’ll need to use a cable release accessory.

Review: EC Kitchen

Jan V. and I ventured to EC Kitchen, a Taiwanese restaurant, next door to Chinese Delicacy.  EC Kitchen is known for unadorned, clean, non-greasy Taiwan style food.  We arrived at noon, and saw a single fellow diner, who had ordered beef noodle soup enhanced with tomato.  It looked very hearty, but neither one of us felt hungry, and decided to order appetizers from their nice photo menu.

Chewy tofu and steamed buns:

Scallion pancakes:

Taiwan style sweet sausage (options: spicy sausage & Cantonese style):

Chive pocket:

Pork belly bun with pickled veggies and cilantro:


Turnip cake is not pictured, but very good.

We enjoyed the shared appetizers, and rate it a JV “2”;  and probably a “3” for well prepared and healthier food. We need to return and try some of their entrees.  The beef shank noodle soup sounds good.  Their signature items (preservative free sausage, beef shank, and turnip cake) are available in refrigerated units for take out.

Asian soups (other than ramen & pho)

Pho Oregon #27: Hu Tieu My Tho $8.50.  Clear noodles with large shrimp, barbecue pork, pork liver, quail egg, and fish balls.  Bean sprouts on side plate.  A varied mix of meat, veggies, and seafood — clear noodles underneath.  Very clean tastes.  Nicer decor than most Asian Restaurants.

2016-04-Pho-Oregon

Chiang Mai #30 Kuay Tiew Palo Moo  $11.50.  Choice of noodles with slow-cooked pork and pork belly, deep-fried tofu, Chinese broccoli, boiled egg, bean sprouts, Chinese brocolli and green onion served in a house special aromatic herbal soup.  This dish had woon sen (clear) noodles.  Liked the broth.  Chiang Mai is northern style Thai.

2016-04-Kuay Tiew Palo Moo

 

Chinese American History is American History

  • Frank H. Wu Distinguished Professor, UC Hastings College of the Law

2016-04-01-1459529979-8465563-BTGJeffLeeWWIIDSC7222.jpg

Photo by Jeff Lee

“They were there at the beginning,” Jennifer Fang told me. “Chinese Americans were an integral part of the founding of Portland,” she continued.

Historian Fang said that was the most striking realization she came to as the associate curator for a new exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society. It is the local companion to a national show on Chinese immigrants (for which I did a tiny bit of work).

“It is the story of an ethnic group,” she acknowledged. “But it turns out to be much more than that.”

The secret is hidden in the open. People, Asian Americans being no exception, take Asian immigration to be a new phenomenon, enabled by the 1965 legislative reforms that finally eliminated the last vestiges of flagrant racial restrictions on entry. Yet the record of Asian Americans extends back over a century. Well before “PDX” became the hip destination where twenty-somethings “retire,” Chinese Americans were residents, even if they were neither called “Chinese Americans” nor regarded as permanent.

In fact, Portland has had two Chinatowns. The original burned down. It had been inhabited primarily by bachelors, in an era when male laborers were recruited and policies were intended to prevent any population from burgeoning. After it was incinerated, it was replaced over time by settlement only a few blocks away.

The “New Chinatown” in due course became the second-largest in the nation (behind only San Francisco in size). The descendants of the Chinese immigrants from the nineteenth century can still be found in the region. They have dispersed from the blocks that delimited their ancestors.

According to the definitive history of the two neighborhoods, Marie Rose Wong’s Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, the Chinese influx to Portland was so significant that the records for some years list the group as number two after German immigrants; in a few outlying counties during the nineteenth century, the Chinese were the most abundant among the many new arrivals searching for gold.

In the debate over the state constitution, however, Wong indicates “the finished document made little distinction between ‘Chinamen’ and ‘Negroes.’”

All the same, Wong reports that the Chinese settlers were not contained by Chinatown. It was a district, not a ghetto, because of the interactions between Asians and Anglos, the wealth accumulated by some of the former, and the lack of violence from the latter. Chinese Americans commanded respect as they did not elsewhere.

The primary curator of the exhibit, Jackie Peterson-Loomis, explained that Portland has not always been progressive. She recounted how even Greek immigrants were not accepted as fully, equally white.

In such a context, the Portland Chinese Americans demonstrated extraordinary resilience as a community and as individuals. Several panels on display present biographies that are remarkable. They attest to accomplishments that would be impressive today and were unique for their time.

The first American flying ace in World War II, credited with shooting down multiple enemy planes, was Major Arthur Chin. A native of Portland, he was motivated to support his father’s China in the battle against imperial Japan. His lineage, furthermore, is distinctly American: his mother apparently was from Peru. Hazel Ying Lee of Portland was among the female military aviators during the conflict. She died while on duty, in an airfield collision.

The first woman of color selected as the Rose Princess beauty queen was Ruth Fong, in 1946. In a photograph that through a single image tells a story of bridge building, she is being congratulated by Edwin C. Berry, the head of the Urban League, the organization dedicated to African American economic empowerment.

Chinatown has receded into antiquity. It can no longer be discerned as a distinct area. There is a traditional gate, marking a derelict territory. Although the landmark restaurant, Hung Far Low, is boarded up, its colorful sign has been restored,

The Oregon museum has preserved the Chinatown spirit. It deserves to attract a wide audience for its inclusive choice of subject matter, and it has succeeded in drawing in the requisite crowds.

Our past is our future. As our ideals are realized, the documentation of our progress allows us to understand what remains as a problem. Reviewing the challenges that people who came before us faced is humbling, because it reminds us of how they made it possible for us to follow.