Samsui women refer to the hardworking women who emigrated from China (mostly from the Canton region) between 1920s to 1949, to Singapore to earn a living working backbreaking jobs in hard labor industries such as construction or as domestic workers. They usually never marry and often live in cliques, looking after each other. At one point there used to be about 200,000 them in Singapore, contributing to the development and prosperity we enjoy today. Now there remains about 100-200 of them in their 80s and 90s.
|From the Liu Kang Exhibition|
I saw it fitting to finish out the last meal of 2011 with a dish dedicated to these hardworking women, who were easily identified by their red hats as they toiled under the blazing sun. This dish, samsui ginger chicken, is a very popular dish at Soup Restaurant which extols it as a " traditional Samsui dish consumed by the Samsui women in Chinatown. Due to their low income, the Samsui Ginger Chicken was only consumed once a year, during the Chinese New Year" on their website.
Samsui Ginger chicken is eaten with minced ginger and lettuce.
My version is different from Soup Restaurant which serves the chicken steamed. Mine is boiled with garlic, ginger, onions and soya sauce, before I dunked it in cold water to stop the cooking process (and giving the chicken more bite). I serve this with cold lettuce (you must wash it in cold water then dump it inside the fridge). The ginger is more difficult to make, because it requires minced ginger and I don't have a electric dicer *faints*. I had to mince it by hand.
|The pain I go through sometimes...|
This is where I became a bit confused. I was supposed to make samsui chicken right? Because I was preoccupied with thoughts about work, I absent-mindedly poured in Shaoxing wine (which we use in another recipe for Three Cup Chicken, my other specialty). OOPS~!
Surprisingly it tasted still pretty yummy, and the wine gave the ginger a kick. I poured in some stock (especially the oil floating on top) that I had from boiling the chicken then dumped ginger, garlic, soya sauce, sugar and sesame seed oil (and the wine *zzz*).
I accompany this dish with tomatoes, lettuce, and a dish of finely julienned chilli in soya sauce for an additional kick. How you eat this is, take a lettuce leaf, put a slice of tomato, then dunk the chicken in the chilli (pick up a slice of chilli if you dare) and then the ginger mixture. Wrap and oh nom nom nom nom.