Silkie chickens are a special breed. They have lovely downey white feathers, but their skin and muscle tissue are a deep black. Another thing that makes them special is that they will nurture any eggs. Their own eggs, another chicken’s eggs, duck eggs, turkey eggs…. they are indiscriminate care-takers. In Chinese Medicine, the color black is associated with the kidneys, the deepest source of energy for our bodies, and black chickens are used for just that.
In Asia black chickens have been eaten for centuries to supplement and rejuvinate the body, particualarly after serious illness, or after childbirth. I find that last part very interesting considering how nurturing the black chicken is when it comes to taking care of any eggs they find. To nurture our bodies, we can elicit the help of a creature that naturally nurtures.
Practically speaking, the black chicken is used just like the classic chicken soup for serious illness and recovery. It is considered very nourishing to the body and soul. While black chicken is not very popular in the west, due to it’s more gamy texture and surprising color, it is quite good in soup and is becoming trendy in modern restaurants.
The following is a recipe for wu ji, or black chicken, soup. The ingredients aren’t too hard to come by in your local china town, and the herbal combination can also be purchased in the Queen Anne clinic. I highly recommend it to anyone needing extra energy, and to all women in the weeks following childbirth.
Black-Skinned Chicken Soup
From the New York Times, Jan 17, 2007
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
2 1/2 -pound black-skinned chickens, head and feet discarded, cleaned and rinsed
18 dried white yam pieces, presoaked for 1 hour and drained
1/2 cup wolfberries, presoaked for 1 hour and drained
1 inch-square piece of dried orange peel, presoaked for 30 minutes and drained
2 1/2-inch thick slices fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 pieces Smithfield ham, each 2-inches by 1-inch, and 1/2- inch thick
1. Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Boil chickens for 2 minutes, then remove and set aside. Clean pot, add chickens with enough cold water to barely cover the birds.
2. Place pot over high heat and add yam, wolfberries, orange peel, ginger, and ham. Bring to a boil and skim off scum. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, occasionally skimming fat from the surface.
3. Remove and discard yam, wolfberries, orange peel, ginger and ham. Set aside chicken for other use or slice to serve in soup. Line a colander with cheesecloth or a paper towel, and place over a serving bowl. Pour broth through colander. Add salt to taste, and serve.
Yield: 4 servings (about 2 quarts).