When ttc gave me a jar of his home-made red wine lees (sediment from wine fermentation), I was not too appreciative. I had eaten the Hakka/ Hockchew specialty dish of chicken stewed with this ingredient before and found it off-puttingly pungent, harsh and generally bad-tasting. But my friend fermented the lees himself, a tedious and notoriously fickle process that comes with not a few arcane superstitions. If not done right, the lees will spoil or taste foul. This batch it seemed was OK. He was convinced that I will like it, so I took it home, and major sceptic that I was, soon forgot about it until a few days ago when I was clearing the fridge. As ttc was coming to dinner that evening, I asked the domestic to check with him again how to use the lees, as it would be a little embarrassing for me to admit that I had clean forgotten his intructions.
Just to make sure we wouldn't forget the recipe in a hurry, we made the dish for Sunday lunch and, well, good golly ms molly, it turned out really sedap. Not in the least pungent, the lees imparted a distinctly subtle but full-bodied winey flavour which permeated deeply into the chicken. The stewing liquid made a thick, super-shiok umamilicious gravy that was insanely good with rice. Afterwards the body felt
tipsy relaxed and warm, an unexpected but very pleasant surprise indeed.
There is about half a jar of lees left, enough to make another round. Can't wait....
Chicken with Red Wine Lees
1/2 Chicken- cut into pieces
Red wine lees
Knob of ginger- julliened
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 cup water
1. Marinate the chicken with the ~ 3 tbsp red wine lees for 30 minutes.
2. Fry the ginger slices till fragrant.
3. Add the chicken with its marinade to the ginger and cook till the chicken is lightly browned.
4. Add the oyster sauce and water, cook until the sauce is thickened and the chicken cooks through.