This simple dish exalts the humble cabbage. The cabbage’s mild sweetness is accentuated by a simple but flavourful chicken consommé. Unfortunately, many Chinese chefs use instant chicken powder thickened with starch for speed and effiency. No amount of MSG can imitate the natural roundness and flavour of a stock that is made by double-boiling a free range chicken and stewing hen, and finished off with sun-dried scallops for a sweet, briny intensity.
Chinese baby cabbage (wawa cai) 1kg (2lb3oz)
Salt to taste
Sugar to taste
Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing) 1tsp
Sun-dried scallops (conpoy) 30g (1oz)
Potato flour (optional) 1Tbsp, mixed with some water
Prepare consommé. Clean stewing hen and chicken and discard heads and fat. Chop chicken into 5-cm (2-in) chunks and blanch in hot water for 2 minutes to remove any impurities. Wash and drain.
Place chicken pieces in a large double-boiler with ginger, spring onions and water. Cover pot and double-boil for 3 hours, skimming off scum and impurities. Strain consommé and discard ingredients. Set aside.
Trim baby cabbage stems. Cut into smaller lengths if cabbage is too long, then blanch in a pot of hot (not boiling) water over medium heat for about 10 minutes until cabbage is tender to the touch. Drain and pat dry.
Reheat 250ml (8fl oz / 1cup) consommé in a wok and season to taste with salt, sugar and wine. Add cabbage and simmer for 1 minute to allow flavours to be absorbed. Remove and place on a deep serving plate.
Reheat remaining consommé in wok. Add dried scallops and cook over medium heat. Add potato flour solution for a thicker consistency if desired. Shred scallops finely, then arrange over cabbage. Pour consommé over and garnish with Chinese wolfberries. Serve immediately.