However, there are certain things on the western Chinese menu that make my mouth water when I see them being carried past my table - salt and chilli ribs, sesame prawns on toast and the smell of a sizzling platter. Also, banana fritters!
We went to the Wah Lei Chinese association Christmas party, which was at The Slow Boat in Chester recently. It was the "all you can eat" banquet menu, which featured many of the usuals (sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken), as well as some less common (the curries and chilli dishes were very tasty). I was pleased to see the eldest tucking into salt and pepper chicken wings with gusto, and the middle hoovering up a whole bowl of chicken and sweetcorn soup.
On New Year's Eve, we had a family meal of roast chicken and most of the leftovers from Christmas - roasties, sprouts, red cabbage and carrots, along with a lovely Christmas pudding, mince pies and as much brandy cream as people could manage. I was left with two chicken carcasses which were just too good not to do anything with, and remembered how much the middle child had enjoyed his chicken and sweetcorn soup.
I've used a slow cooker to make the chicken stock overnight, but if you're short of time, just use pre-made chicken stock and chopped, cooked chicken meat. Watch the seasoning though, and don't add any additional salt before tasting.
- Carcasses of two roast chickens
- 1 onion
- 1300ml water, or enough to cover the stock ingredients
- 2 slices of raw ginger, peeled
- 400ml can of creamed corn
- 400ml can of sweetcorn
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Salt and ground white pepper to season
- 5 heaped tsp cornflour to thicken (adjust this amount according to the amount of water/stock used)
- A few drops of sesame oil
- To make the stock, put the chicken carcasses into a slow cooker. Add the slices of ginger, then peel the onion (removing the roots), chop it into half lengthways and add it to the pot.
- Cover the stock ingredients with water and cook on low overnight
- Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the onion and ginger, then remove as much of the chicken meat and bones as possible to a large bowl. Pour the stock through a sieve into a large saucepan
- Using your hands, separate as much chicken meat from the bones as possible, then chop or shred the meat finely
- Bring the stock to a rolling boil, then add the creamed corn and sweetcorn. Bring back to the boil and add the chicken meat. Stir well and reduce the heat to a moderate boil
- Mix 5 heaped tsp cornflour with 50-70ml water, until you have a smooth mixture. Add this to the stock and bring it back to a moderate boil, stirring occasionally. If the soup is not as thick as you would like, add more cornflour/water mixture, a teaspoon of cornflour at a time
- Reduce the heat to a gentle boil and stir with a ladle. Slowly pour the beaten egg into the soup, stirring continuously. When the egg has all been added, taste the soup, and add salt and ground white pepper to season.
- Remove from the heat and add a few drops of sesame oil. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately
Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup (玉米雞湯)