Fu-yung (lotus-white) chicken

This is a rather complicated but not too difficult recipe. What you need here is patience; the result is most satisfying and delicious.

In most Chinese restaurants, a ‘fu-yung’ dish usually means omelette or scrambled eggs, but strictly speaking, ‘lotus-white’ should be creamy-textured egg whites that have been lightly deep-fried, which prompted a certain imaginative cook to call this dish ‘deep-fried milk’!

1/4 lb (100 g) chicken breast meat
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1 fl oz (25 ml) milk or good stock
1 pt (600 ml) oil
4 fl oz (125 ml) good stock
1 tbsp rice wine or sherry
1 oz (25 g) green peas
1 oz (25 g) cooked ham, finely chopped
a few drops of sesame seed oil

The best part of the breast to use for this recipe are the two strips just along the breastbone. First pound the meat for about five minutes using the blunt edge of the cleaver and adding a little cold water now and again. Then chop the meat with the sharp edge of the blade for a further 5-10 minutes or until the meat has a creamy texture.

Make a smooth batter with the cornflour and water, add the chicken meat, egg whites, milk and a pinch of salt.

Heat up a wok or deep-fryer over high heat before putting in the oil (this is very important, otherwise the meat will stick to the bottom during frying). When the oil is really hot, turn off the heat to let it cool down to moderate before pouring in the fu-yung spoon by spoon. When the entire lot has been added to the oil, turn up the heat to moderate and stir oil up from the bottom of the pan to help the fu-yung rise – but make sure not to touch them or they will scatter. As soon as they are set, scoop out with a perforated spoon and drain, then place them in a serving dish.

Heat up the remaining stock, add salt, wine and peas, thicken with a little more cornflour and water mixture, then pour over the fu-yung. Sprinkle the finely chopped ham and sesame seed oil as garnish and serve hot.

Should you wonder what on earth can you do with the egg yolks, after using only the egg whites for all these poultry and seafood dishes, the answer is quite simple: they can be added to scrambled eggs or omelette (have you noticed how much brighter is the colour of eggs used for fried rice in Chinese restaurants?), or indeed you can use them for cake-making etc. As a last resort, you can always give them to your pets (our cat loves egg yolk)! Nothing is ever wasted in Chinese cooking, least of all good food, which is too precious to throw away.

© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.