In China, the Chinese have their own ‘mixed bits’, known as zahui or shijin, meaning ‘assorted mixture’ or ‘ten varieties’, though it may not always consist of ten different ingredients, nor should they all be leftovers. Indeed, all the ingredients are specially selected in order to achieve a perfect balance of texture, colour and flavour. The dish should have a distinct taste and should never be a jumbled mess like the type of chop suey one gets from most take-aways.
giblets from one or two chickens (or ducks)
3-4 Chinese dried mushrooms
1 small can bamboo shoots
6 oz (170 g) greens(mange-touts peas, broccoli, french beans etc)
2-3 spring onions
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine or sherry
2 tsp cornflour
3-4 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
a few drops sesame seed oil
In Western cooking terms, giblets means the head, neck, heart, pinions, feet, gizzard, kidneys and liver of poultry. These are normally used for making stock or, more often than not, discarded by people who do not know what to do with them. This is a pity because they not only have a high nutritive value but can also be made into excellent dishes. In China giblets are regarded as a delicacy.
For our dish, we only need to use the gizzard, heart and liver. The gizzard requires thorough cleaning and trimming. Make sure the gall bladder is not broken when removing it from the liver, otherwise it will leave a sharp, bitter taste. Now cut them into thin slices and mix them with a little soy sauce, wine and cornflour. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes, squeeze them dry and discard the hard stalk. Cut each mushroom into 2-3 pieces if large, leave whole if small. Cut the bamboo shoots, greens and spring onions all into roughly the same shape and size. Mix in a bowl about 2 fl oz (50 ml) of the water in which the mushrooms were soaked with the remaining soy sauce and cornflour.
To cook, first heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a hot wok or large frying pan, swirl it about and wait for it to smoke before stir-frying the vegetables with salt for about 1 minute. Remove and keep them on a warm plate while you heat the remaining oil and stir-fry the giblets with spring onions for about 1½ minutes. Now return the cooked vegetables to the pan, continue stirring, and add the water, soy sauce and cornflour mixture. Stir for a few seconds until all the ingredients are coated with a light, clear glaze. Add the sesame seed oil and serve immediately.
As well as combining all the different flavours and textures, this is a very colourful dish combining green, white, black, brown and purple.
© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.