Friday, October 03, 2008

Goo Poh's Foochow Yellow Chicken Curry

Three generations of my family had loved Goo Poh Yuk Ging to bits. My father would spend hours chatting with her in the living room in the Hua Hong Ice Factory house each Sunday when she came to visit. She would take the sampan to cross the Rejang to reach our little settlement on the island called Kerto. My siblings and I grew up in Sibu and never have her too far away from us. And my girls went to her kindergarten and were given the "special" Goo Poh treatment.

She left us many fond memories and with gratitude we would often think of her. Sometimes we feel that she has not even passed on! And every time I cook her Yellow Chicken Curry her presence would be with me.

This very old photo was taken around 1954 and the two ladies in cheong sam are my two Goo Pohs (Grand Aunts). Goo Poh Yuk Ging is the first on the left and I am the little girl standing next to my other Goo Poh Yee Lang. This photo was taken when Goo Poh had to look after me for a short while as my mother had to go to the clinic. I thus became a "gate crasher" of this graduation photo.

Garlic-tumeric or kunyit -curry leaves - chilli padi

My cup used for measuring water.

Wedges of big onions.

Yellow curry paste made from tumeric powder and curry powder and water.

Coconut powder from the packet for the busy career woman. Just add some water to make coconut cream although it is not as good as the freshly squeezed coconut milk from the local market.

Potato cut into "fairly big" sizes. Although very often we would just cut each potato into two for what we Foochows call "good size". Size if often subjective to dialectic differences.

Beautiful fresh long or string beans.

Chicken pieces marinating on a plate. I have used the large pieces of sea salt which I find to be more tasty than the fine salt. I used one tablespoon of curry powder (Baba's Curry Powder for Meat) and two tablespoons of kunyit powder.

Goo Poh's Foochow Chicken Curry

1-2 Stalks fresh lemon grass
l inch piece of fresh kunyit
2 Tbs plain kunyit powder and a little chili powder for marinating or 2 Tbs curry powder
4 Tablespoon yellow curry or kunyit powder mixed to a paste
Fresh ground black pepper
1 ts Sugar
4 ts Salt
2+ kg Chicken, cut up
7 tb Vegetable oil
some long beans cut into 3 inch lengths
6 Australian or local potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces
4 Cloves garlic, chopped

some curry leaves if you have a tree in your backyard

4 large Bombay Onions, cut into wedges, -separated
3 c Water

2 c Coconut milk (squeezed from one coconut or use the packet cream coconut)
1 c or water *

Goo Poh (Ms. Tiong Yuk Ging) was one of the first women to help teach in the Methodist Church Institute for Women in home economics. She could cook very well and was a meticulous housekeeper.

We will always remember her Chicken Curry with fondness because it was where we first started to develop taste buds for other non Chinese dishes.

It can be served with noodles. But when it is just a family meal it is eaten with white rice. We later learned from the Malays how to eat curry with bread.


If you are using fresh lemon grass, simply remove the outer leaves and upper two-thirds of the stalks, then cut the remainder into 2-inch lengths. If you are, using, it must be soaked in warm water for 2 hours, then drained and chopped fine.

Combine the curry powder, black pepper, sugar, add salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil and fry the potatoes over high heat until brown. (It is not necessary to completely cook potatoes at this point, only to brown them.) When well browned, remove from the pan and set aside until ready to cook the curry. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving 2 tablespoons for cooking the chicken.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high flame. Fry the garlic for a few seconds,then add the curry paste. Stir the paste until the oil separates from the paste. Then add the onion, and lemon grass; stir briefly and add the marinated chicken, stirring long enough to sear the meat slightly. Add the 3 cups of water , then cover and bring to a boil. Add the beans last.

Turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes; uncover and stir, then cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add the prefried potatoes, the coconut milk, and the milk. Cover again and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with rice,noodles or bread.

Note:+ We also found that this curry tastes better the next day. So we usually make more of the soup by adding more coconut and water. Add more salt and pepper too.

+Those of us who like the curry to be hotter we use dried chilli powder or just add a few fresh chillies.

+ Instead of chicken you can use pork but do slice the pork into 2 finger-wide and 1 finger thick slices.

+ Foochow curry is rather "watery". You can therefore add more than 4 extra cups of water for this recipe.

4 memories:

Bengbeng said...

oops u forgot to post the finished cooked curry :)

it is true curry oways tastes better the longer we keep it. but i have a problem with coconut milk. it tends to spoil a curry if kept for too long unless we r extra careful in handling it

sarawakiana said...

Hi Bengbeng

Thanks again for visiting.

The cooking steps and extra photos will be posted another day.

Cliff hanger!

p/s Sometimes if I still have too much curry left less the chicken I will add soy been sheets and carrots the next day. Thus I safe on my cooking. A bit of pepper (a Foochow habit) always makes the curry better.

Bengbeng said...

thanks :) a million. Benghui is getting to love curry nowadays. takes after the grandpa, grandma i suppose and me ... much to Mrs BB 's horror :)

sarawakiana said...

Tumeric is good for general health. Onions were originally used to treat scurvy (ie lack of Vit C amongst sailors).

This kind of curry is good for kids (with reduced coconut milk). Carrots can add additional sweetness too. Add more water . My children love this dish. No need to cook any other dishes. All in one. Happy mother happy kids!!

Thanks for visiting.


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