Sarawak MFF: Kacangma (Motherwort) Chicken / Arthur’s day Celebration at Sid’s Pub.

The social scene in KL has been rather busy lately. Of course, in the midst of all the Pre-arthur’s day celebrations, and several launches of new outlets, the Oktoberfest and Malaysia International Gourmet Festival (MIGF) are both about to take off as well. It’s no wonder we are swamped with events to attend for the weeks to come.

Last weekend was the annual Sid’s Pubs‘ Arthur’s day Celebration. The boys sure know how to throw great parties! Like last year, this party was held at their Taman Tun Dr Ismail outlet, and there were plenty of cheers. With Guinness priced at RM10nett, it’s no wonder everyone took the opportunity to indulge in a few.

Although the event started at 12 noon, we only arrived at the Pub after 5pm. By then, the party was in full swing. There were people everywhere! Spilling out to the streets, even. According to Frank, around 500 people turned up. We took no time in ordering our pints of black magic and contributing to the toasts to Mr Arthur Guinness. Here are the photographic evidences:

To Arthur!
Frank took the hats off Mr Dustyhawk as we grabbed the photo opportunity. Thanks Andy!

Yes we stack our cups as we go….. My count was 7 in total. What a party!

Now that’s out of the way….. time to focus on the food. I have a reason for this too. You see, Kacangma Chicken isn’t really a visually pleasing dish. In fact most people would probably find it bordering gross. It’s true too that this is an acquired taste. But anything that’s cooked in a bottle of wine is good in my book. Great, even. Just think of it as a Chinese version of Coq Au Vin. Except it’s much better for you. This is my third post in conjunction with the Sarawak Month of Malaysia Food Fest.

Motherwort (益母草) is a herb that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Not only in China, but in Greece and North America too. Primarily given to women after giving birth for variety of reasons (reduce anxiety, prevent post-natal depression, eases uterine cramping are the main few). For the rest of us, it’s also good for regulating menstrual cycle, and promoting heart health.

The main precaution is not to consume it during menstruation as it can make the bleeding heavier, something to do with stimulating the uterus. That’s speaking from personal experience too. Yeah, because you really need to know. Sorry about that. There is also some evidence that suggest it could potentially be dangerous to be consumed during pregnancy for the same reason. If you have a heart condition, or if you are taking sedatives, do consult a doctor before consuming motherwort as it could interact with some of the medications.

That’s why this dish called Kacangma Chicken (I have no idea how the name came about, and everyone seems to spell it differently) is the most common confinement dish in Sarawak (especially for the Teochews and Hakkas). The combination of motherwort, wine (lots of it) and ginger helps restore physical health and improve circulation, thus recover from the labour.

Kacangma Chicken

I’m not sure how readily available Motherwort is, though I suspect you could probably check with your local Chinese medicine stores. There are 2 types of wine used in this recipe. One’s readily available in the supermarket: White Rice Wine (白米酒) and the other one is usually homemade and we call it Tien Jiu/Sweet Wine (甜酒), made with Glutinous rice. You could susbtitute that with Chinese Rose Wine, or Cognac, even Foochow Red Wine. You’d want something that’s on the sweet side as motherwort is quite a bitter herb.

The ingredients needed, apart from the Chicken

I received the motherwort already pre-fried and blended (by my mother) so it looks like this.

Unassuming tub of herbaceous goodness

1kg Chicken Maryland, chopped to smaller pieces
A packet of Motherwort, dry fried and blended
Ginger, about palm size
1 650ml bottle of White Rice Wine
1/2 cup Sweet Wine/Tian Jiu
Pinch of salt (optional)*

*My grandma and my mum doesn’t add salt in this dish at all. 

Chop the ginger finely and process it (or pound with mortar and pestle). Using a muslin cloth, squeeze the juice out. Set aside.

Dry fry the motherwort until brownish. Set aside

Dry fry the ginger until aromatic. Set aside.

In a heavy pan/wok, heat oil and add the ginger back along with chicken pieces. Sear the chicken pieces well, then add the motherwort back in. Pour the entire bottle of White Rice Wine in. And let the mixture simmer for about 40 minutes or until Chicken’s tender. Stirring occasionally.

Just before turning off the heat, add the Sweet Wine.

The fumes from the alcohol alone could probably get the cheap drunks. It smells incredible!

It won’t win beauty pageant, but it will win your heart.

You could serve this dish with leafy vegetables and rice. Or do what I sometimes do, eat it with mee sua! The noodles soaked in the gravy is quite incredible. The unique bitter taste of the herb, the sharp and pungent ginger, combined with aromatic wine, undiluted. It definitely packs a punch!

I am submitting this dish to Malaysian Food Fest, Sarawak Month hosted by Sharon of Feats of Feasts

11 Comments Add yours

  1. WendyinKK says:

    Hmm.. it causes bleeding but served to preggers?
    A bit confused here.

    1. kellysiew says:

      It doesn’t cause bleeding per se, but if you are having your period it does things to the uterus does makes the bleeding heavier (stimulating it I think). Not enough studies to give a proper mechanism of how this herb works.

    2. kellysiew says:

      By the way it’s not consumed by ladies who are pregnant now (although in the past it was), but only for those in confinement after birth. I’ll build on that paragraph a bit more. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. Ooo, very interesting recipe! I know I’m not exactly the ‘target audience’ for kacangma chicken, but I definitely wouldn’t mind tasting it. But I guess it’s not something we’d see in menus at KL eateries. Will remember to look for it the next time I’m in Borneo though! 😀

    1. kellysiew says:

      Plenty of men eat this too. No problem!

  3. bluredfrank says:

    Not a fan of chicken but the smell from kitchen was very intoxicating. Er. In more ways than one. Interesting information about the herb. Never even heard of it. Well, I’ve been educated etc. Well written. Superb images.

    1. kellysiew says:

      Too bad you’ll never get to try it 😛

  4. suituapui says:

    I love kacangma…but too heaty, all that ginger. Great on cold rainy days and goes superbly well with rice.

    1. kellysiew says:

      Yeah, I can’t eat too much heaty stuff so I consume in small amounts each time.

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