On the first day of every Chinese New Year my Grandma's household and ours wakes up in a cloud of the sweet warm heady aroma of ginger, garlic and chicken fried then simmered in homemade Ang Chow -- the thick residue of a wine made from glutinous rice and a vivid red yeast.
I'd tumble out of bed, and tuck into a big breakfast bowl of Ang Chow Mee Sua, this Foochow-Chinese style soupy coq au vin with blanched riceflour threads. What a start to the Chinese New Year! At some point later in the day I'd have an afternoon bowl of the same at Grandma's. And then very likely drift into a stupored nap after.
My Mum and I both grew up thinking Ang Chow Mee Sua was a traditional New Year dish. It was only earlier this year when I finally learned how to make the stuff from Mum and Grandma that we both found out that it's really a dish meant for birthdays and weddings. Grandma made it on the first day of every Chinese New Year because that was Grandpa's birthday! (That generation of Chinese usually mark their days by the lunar instead of Roman calendar.)
Above: Grandma shows Babs the ropes about rice threads at his first Chinese New Year lunch at her place earlier this year
Making Ang Chow from scratch is a disappearing art in Singapore. In the last couple of years Mum has had a regular stream of Ang Chow acolytes at home, so there's always a steady supply of Ang Chow residue and wine in her pantry. And an even steadier stream of friends and family eager to dine with my parents anytime during the year to taste the real deal, either for the first time, or to fix a craving.
For those who want to try making their own Ang Chow at home, I've documented the process here. If you already have access to some Ang Chow residue, I hope you enjoy this Ang Chow Mee Sua recipe as much as our family does.
Makes 6-8 servings
2 Tbs cooking oil e.g., olive, sunflower or vegetable
100g ginger, smashed
5 cloves garlic, smashed, keep skin on
10 tablespoons angchow residue
2 teaspoons sugar
1 whole chicken, chopped into segments with the bones left in. We prefer dark meat, so Mum sometimes uses just chicken legs, thighs, wings and feet
1 cup angchow wine
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 litres boiling water
1 skein of mee suah per serving
Directions for Chicken Ang Chow Soup
- Heat up a large wok on high heat and add cooking oil
- Fry the ginger and garlic for ~ 5 minutes
- Add the angchow residue and fry until fragrant but not burnt. Stir fast to prevent burning. Lower the flame if needed
- Add sugar and fry until the angchow is shiny
- Add the chicken and stir till angchow is evenly spread
- Add the salt and angchow wine
- When the mixture comes to a boil, add the boiling water
- Lower the flame and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
- Remove the chicken pieces and keep separately from the soup, so that the meat does not disintegrate
Directions for Mee Sua
- Bring a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil
- Place a skein or 2 of mee sua in the boiling water and cook for a few minutes until soft
- Transfer the mee sua (not the cooking water) into a bowl. Add chicken pieces and angchow soup
- Add salt and extra angchow wine to taste, and serve up