Peking Savory Fried Cornish Hens

Until last week, I’d never had Cornish hen. I was pretty excited to find an excuse to cook a whole little flock of them! This recipe has several steps (marinating, steaming, then frying), but you can do most of the work early, refrigerate the partially cooked birds, and then fry them when you’re ready to eat if that works better with your day.

The flock, thawing.

This recipe gets a bit messy, when you get to the frying part. Might not be a bad idea to line your counter with some newspaper or something. (Just don’t get the paper too close to the stove burner!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cornish hens, split in half
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake or dry sherry
  • 8 slices ginger root
  • 4 green onions, cut into a few pieces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 Chinese dried lily buds (optional)
  • 1 cup cooking oil (canola or something similar)
  • coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

Optional Spices (use any you have, don’t bother buying the rest)

  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 3 split black cardamom pods  or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 star anise or 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel or anise seed
  • 1 3 inch piece cinnamon bark or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 slices nutmeg seed or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

First you’ve got to get those hens in half. You can use a knife, but my mom has poultry shears so I used those.

terrifying

Combine all the spices, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar and stir well. Put the hen-halves in a large bag or bowl and pour the sauce over them, rotating to make sure all the birds get covered.

Marinate 1-2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to steam, if you have a steamer, awesome. If not, you can sort of get the same effect by putting a small heat-safe dish in the bottom of a large pot and balancing a bowl on top of that. Pour water in the bottom of the pot, and steam the hens, skin side up, in the bowl.

If you do have a steamer, get the biggest bowl you have that will fit in the steamer and put as many of the hens as you can get in it, skin side up, in the bowl, put the bowl in the steamer, and steam.

Either way, you’ll want to get the water to a boil, put in the bowl of hens, and reduce the heat until the water is simmering. Put the lid on your large pot, and steam the hens for 25 minutes.

That’s half the hen-halves.

No longer looking raw. That’s a good thing.

Pour the liquid from the bowl into a small pot and simmer until reduced by about half. Skim any fat or chicken-scum from the surface of the liquid.

You can refrigerate the hens now (and the sauce you just reduced), or go straight to frying.

When you’re ready to fry, pick off any cinnamon sticks, star anise, pepper corns, or any other big chunks of spice that may be stuck to the hens, and discard.

Pour the oil into a skillet, ideally something with a large flat bottom and high sides, and heat on the stove. I found something around medium to be about right. When the oil is hot (flick a drop of water in it, and if it crackles like crazy, you’re set), add several of the pieces of hen, being careful not to get spattered too much by spitting oil. Cook, rotating several times so that all the skin gets crisped.

Cook the remaining parts and serve with the sauce you made from the liquid in the steaming bowl, and some rice and/or vegetables. Garnish with the coriander leaves, if desired.

Just kidding about the vegetables.

One hen turns out to be kind of a lot of food for one person, but it shouldn’t be a problem to find someone willing to eat a half for lunch the next day! These are nice and moist and have a crispy delicious skin from the frying. A good first attempt at Cornish hens!

Peking Savory Fried Cornish Hens

From Cookstr.

  • 4 Cornish hens, split in half
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake or dry sherry
  • 8 slices ginger root
  • 4 green onions, cut into a few pieces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns or 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 Chinese dried lily buds (optional)
  • 1 cup cooking oil (canola or something similar)
  • coriander leaves for garnish (optional)

Optional Spices (use any you have, don’t bother buying the rest):

  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 3 split black cardamom pods  or 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 star anise or 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel or anise seed
  • 1 3 inch piece cinnamon bark or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cloves or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 slices nutmeg seed or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon five spice powder

Combine all the spices, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar and stir well. Put the hen-halves in a large bag or bowl and pour the sauce over them, rotating to make sure all the birds get covered. Marinate 1-2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to steam, put the largest bowl you have that will fit in the steamer in, and put as many of the hens in the bowl as you can fit skin side up. Pour an inch or two of water into the bottom of the steamer and bring to a boil over the stove. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and steam the birds for 25 minutes, repeating with any hens that didn’t make it in the first time.

Pour the liquid from the bowl the hens are in into a small pot and simmer until reduced by about half. Skim any fat from the surface of the liquid.

You can refrigerate the hens now (and the sauce you just reduced), or go straight to frying.

When you’re ready to fry, pick off any cinnamon sticks, star anise, pepper corns, or any other big chunks of spice that may be stuck to the hens, and discard.

Pour the oil into a skillet, ideally something with a large flat bottom and high sides, and heat on the stove. I found something around medium to be about right. When the oil is hot add several of the pieces of hen. Cook, rotating several times so that all the skin gets crisped. Cook the remaining pieces, and serve with the reduced sauce and rice or vegetables. Garnish with coriander leaves if desired.

Advertisements

About sparecake

My name's Corinne, and I like cake, cookies, and chocolate! Also, non-c-things such as ponies, Star Trek, and biking. I write a food blog and a blog about life, wide open spaces, and museum work. Nice to meet you!
This entry was posted in Dinner and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s