I cooked my mother's dish on mother's day. I was not able to make a trip to Southern California then, but loved that she had made it on the past 2 occasions when I visited last. Kiam Pung translates into Salty Rice, with "kiam" being salty in my parents' fukienese/ fujianese dialect, which I'm told is very similar to Hokkien, or Taiwanese. Basically I like to think of this easy dish is a Chinese Paella -- it's open to an infinite number of variations, but should always contain 3 essential ingredients (besides the rice, which is a given):
- Soy Sauce
- Some kind of green vegetable
- Some kind of meat or seafood or meat substitute
To these essentials I usually add sweet chinese sausage called Lop Cheong, (or Lop Chong, Lap Cheung or any derivatives therein). This is the Cantonese name for a dried, hard sausage made with pork and pork fat. Occasionally there are variations that include liver, duck, or duck liver or other offal. Look for rice wine in the ingredient list for a more refined and ultimately more fragrant version. In addition, I threw in some reconstituted dried shitake mushrooms and since I had a knob of leftover lotus root, I chopped that up as well.
I deboned some chicken thighs (around 4) and reserved their bones - these would go in with the rice to add more flavour - you can fish them out afterwards when ready to serve. I usually don't bother if it's just DD and I eating at home. For the vegetable cabbage may be the most common, but this time I put in some mustard greens. Any sturdy green would work; some suggestions: gai lan (keep the stems and leaves separate; add in the stems first and let them cook longer), or kale.
Another yummy variation is to add in braised pork belly, cooked until meltingly tender.
- 4-5 cups rice
- 6-8 cups chicken broth (or a mixture of chicken broth and water, or just plain water works as well)
- 4 Chinese sausage links, sliced into rounds of about 1/4 inch
- 4 skin-on Chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in, bones reserved.
- 2 Tbs ShiaoXing rice wine
- 8-10 dried Shitake mushrooms, reconstituted, liquid reserved
- your favourite soy sauce (don't use Japanese usukuchi, or if you do, know that it's saltier than regular dark soy and is lighter-coloured)
- 1 bunch mustard greens, torn into 2-3-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup dried shrimp, reconstituted, liquid reserved (optional)
- 1 cup lotus root, sliced 1/4 inch thick, then each slice divided into quarters (optional)
- vegetable oil
- green onion for garnish/ finishing
- Start soaking the Shitake mushrooms and dried shrimp, if using. Soak in hot water for at least 1/2 hour; reserve the cooking liquid.
- Marinate the chicken (including bones) in a mixture of 2 Tbs soy sauce and 2 Tbs ShiaoXing for around 20-30 minutes.
- Sautee the chinese sausage and render out the fat. Remove from the pan.
- Sautee the mushrooms, dried shrimp and lotus root (individually, removing each from the pan in turn) in the remaining fat and oil. Add soy sauce to season each ingredient. if the pan begins to dry out, add more vegetable cooking oil.
- Sautee the chicken including its bones after marinating - don't crowd the pan and brown the chicken well.
- Add back in all the ingredients (sausage, mushrooms, dried shrimp and lotus root) to the chicken and stir to mix.
- Add the rice to the viands and stir well, coating the rice with the oil and fat and other flavours from the pan and the meats/ seafood/ veggies (like seasoning risotto rice). Add in about 4 Tbs of soy sauce and stir to mix
- Add in the liquid - whether chicken stock or water or a mixture of both. To gauge how much water's sufficient I still use the trick of using my finger to measure from the top of the rice to the top of the liquid. If the liquid comes up to mid-middle finger, it's just right.
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes. At around minute 10-12, add in the mustard greens.
- Serve sprinkled with green onion. (Remember to fish out the chicken bones if using.)
Serves 4-6, or 2 with lots of leftovers for the week. Here's to you, Mom!
More photos on Flickr here.