Double-Boiled Pigeons with Shiitake Mushrooms

My favourite pigeon dish is when the bird has been master-stocked and wok-fried until the skin is crisp; this comes a close second. Try to get plump Number 4 or 5 size birds and get rid of the cutlery — this is definitely a dish to eat with your fingers.

Ingredients

  • 2 × 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) baby pigeons (squabs)
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, stalks removed, cut in half on the diagonal through the middle
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) fresh chicken stock
  • ½ knob of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons light mushroom soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), cut into julienne
  • freshly ground white pepper

Method

Blanch the pigeons in boiling water for 1 minute. Cool slightly, then wipe with paper towel to remove any membrane that may be stuck to the skin. Put the pigeons in a clay pot and place the pot in a large bamboo steamer.

Heat the chicken stock in a small pot and pour over the pigeons, then add the ginger and prosciutto slices. Cover the clay pot and cover the steamer with the lid, then steam over a pot or a wok of rapidly boiling water for 1¼ hours. Carefully remove the lid from the steamer and the cover from the pot. Add the mushrooms, sea salt, soy sauce and shaoxing to the pot, then re-cover and steam for another 30 minutes.

Remove the pigeons from the pot and chop them Chinese-style. Arrange the pigeons in a deep plate, sprinkle with the spring onions and pour over some of the broth. Give it a good grind of white pepper to serve.