Chicken Wine ( Jī Jiǔ )

The Mooncake Festival on Sept. 19 was punctuated by a visit to a friend in the mountainous areas of Hsinchu County, Taiwan. It so happened they were in the middle of a family affair (let me not just mention here, I suppose they’d prefer not to), but not the typical family barbecue most Taiwanese do on this festival.

It was a lengthy drive from the center of Hsinchu City, but it was worth it. I drove a motorcycle and the touch and smell of mountain breeze is envigorating. Below is a screen shot of my location on my phone just before signal disappeared. It was about 40km from Hsinchu City center, and had to drive 10km more up the mountains.

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There I witnessed how Chicken Wine is cooked. Chicken Wine is called Jī Jiǔ ( Jī = chicken, Jiǔ = wine; Traditional Chinese: 雞酒 ; Simplified Chinese: 鸡酒 ). They were preparing for a throng of visitors, and Jī Jiǔ is one of the dish they’re preparing. This is not cooking for a few people, so as I expected, it is not ordinary kitchen cooking. They’re cooking 5 chicken at once just for this dish.

In a real big wok, sesame oil was heated and ginger was sauteed. Then the chicken, chopped and washed of course, was added.

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Note how big is the wok, and the stove made for outdoors cooking. The cook kept turning the chicken over until the meat turned white. No water was added. (Sorry for the blocked eyes, I wasn’t able to tell them I am posting these pictures and I’m not sure if they would prefer to be anonymous. Please let me keep that way until I can ask them.)

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Then rice wine was added. I had a taste and it tasted like Japanese sake. They are the same rice wine anyway,

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All 33 bottles were poured over. Let me reiterate, there’s no water added at all.

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After the rice wine was poured, a few pieces of rock sugar was added, and the whole thing left to boil. I was told soup can get you tipsy. Understandably so, it’s wine. Now if they want the alcohol to leave, they’d allow it to boil further.

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After they cooked it was turning dark so it’s time to head back to Hsinchu City. There were no street lights in the mountains but it’s part of the adventure.

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Back in Hsinchu City, the skies were definitely very clear although there was a typhoon looming just a few hundred kilometers away in the Pacific Ocean between Taiwan and Philippines. There’s the full moon in all glory. My phone cam can’t do it justice but let me just post too.

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And yes, one for the road. One last bite before we rest the moon cakes for good.

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