Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kacangma - Sarawak's Special Chicken Dish

During my confinement after my second daughter was born a good friend from Kuching came to visit and she taught me how to cook and eat kacangma. the kacangma was really helpful and I regained my strength and recovered from after birth lethargy
within a week. My mother a very traditional Foochow was also very impressed.

Since that time I have been cooking kacangma chicken with passion.

The common medicinal name for kacangma is Chinese motherwort or yimouchao. The scientific name is leonurus sibiricus/cardiaca of which I think there are several varieties.

I hope my photos will help you cook this wonderful Sarawak dish. WE normally use a free range or kampung chicken of about 3 kg for a good family feast.

(Note: Do avoid calling the chicken LXXX chicken because it is not politically correct. For those from West Malaysia and even some Sarwak town people please avoid using the L word to refer to the ethnic people of Sarawak. Use their proper names. It is not educated and it is very derogatory.)

This is a packet of Sarawak kacangma which is available in supermarkets all over Malaysia and selected stores (e.g. Chinese Traditiohal Medical outlets) overseas. If you are cooking one whole chicken you need one normal packet of kacangma. Dry roast it in a pan and then blend in a food processor. Some kacangma is sold in a beer l litre bottle. I would suggest using only half a bottle for one chicken. Some people use a third of it only.

Pound the ginger (l kg) using the traditional mortar and pestle called lesung.

This is how you squeeze the pounded ginger using a plastic colander. Save the ginger juice for later.

Heat up a kuali with two table spoons of sesame oil . Add the pounded ginger (squeezed dry of the juice which will be added later). When well fried add the chicken pieces. Stir fry until the meat is almost cooked through. Add some salt if you like.

Place the blended toasted Kacangma on top of the chicken and top up the dish with half a bottle of white wine/arack/tuak/Foochow red wine/sake. Add the ginger juice and mix all the ingredients well. The wine and the ginger juice should just cover the chicken. The fluid from the chicken would provide more soup later. It is the soup that is heavenly.

Steam the chicken over a strong fire for about one hour for best taste. I do not use a typical Chinese steamer. This wok is good because it has a glass lid and I can monitor the cooking and the water in the wok.

This dish is enough for the whole family . Fried bitter gourd and perhaps another leafy vegetables like kai lan would be complementary to this dish. If you need to serve dessert after this a nice apple pie would be just right. Or even a shanghai pan cake. Do not serve any cooling dessert which may reduce the effectiveness of the kacangma if you are taking the soup for a special medicinal purpose of heating up your system.

The new mother in confinement is usually given one whole kacangma chicken per day for about two weeks. However I was told in many traditional Chinese families a new mother even had her kacangma in bed as movement was taboo the first week . But how much kacangma is eaten by the new mother is really up to the prescription of the grandmothers or even the new mother herself.

Enjoy with hot rice!!

(^ I was reminded to add this : Not everyone likes kacangma in Sarawak. It is definitely an acquired taste like cheese or pate. However all the races in Sarawak do appreciate this dish.)

8 memories:

linda said...

How do you make kacangma from scratch without the package? How much motherwort is required?

Ketam said...

Used to plant this at home, the whole plant is cut to pieces and dried under the sun and packed into bottles.

all3cool said...

Oh..this is another way of cooking it. Will share with my mom and maybe try it out myself first. Thx for all your unselfish recipes...hehe

sarawakiana said...

Linda : can you get the Chinese Mother wort in your area? If so try to use one tablespoon of fine powder (as suggested by Ketam) for a few pieces of chicken for a start. Use 1/8 recipe.Remember this is a very heaty food.

sarawakiana said...

I really appreciate your comment. It has been very uphill for me to get a motherwort plant here in Miri to plant. I have basil and mint in my garden and various others. Have tried to get a hobby herb garden going. But I also have 6 dogs!! So you can imagine the chaos in my outdoor life!
I hope one day a kind person can give me a motherwort plant.

sarawakiana said...

Dear A
Thanks for writing. I love kacangma. This is one of the best comfort dish in the world!
Hope the simple explanation is useful to your mum.
Some ladies add soy sauce and even oyster sauce!!
Do you plant your own motherwort?

Daniel Yiek said...

Love this dish but I never knew where it came from. LOL

sarawakiana said...

Are you all ready to head for home?
Chinese New Year goods are being sold but very low keyed.

The rains have caused chaos in Miri. A terrible landslide took two lives. We just cannot challenge nature too much.

Try to find a kacangma plant in Sarikei.


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