Essence of Chicken is a popular tonic in Southeast Asia. They are readily sold in bottles in Southeast Asia. Its regular consumption is believed to be not only helps in mental alertness but also in recovery. Some people like to give Chicken of Essence as gifts to those whom are not feeling well, post-op, postnatal, etc for its “tonic” reason.
I remember seeing some bottles of Essence of Chicken sold here in certain grocery stores many years ago in the ethnic aisle. However, I haven’t found any after that.
I am consuming this essence of chicken prepared from scratch by my mom every night now. The main ingredients are chicken bones (chopped) that are being double boiled for hours, DOM Benedictine Liqueur and Dong Quay. In 1510, Benedictine monks first made the elixir that we now know as Benedictine, reputedly to fight malaria. In 1873, production of Benedictine was placed in secular hands. Benedictine DOM is a wonderful, complex honeyed liqueur with a bouquet of spice and citrus blossoms. You can find this in majority of the wine stores here.
The difficult part, If I may say, about this essence of chicken is chopping up the bones. Other than that, it is a pretty simple essence to prepare. You can use a food processor too. We have Vitamix Food Prep, which is a very good commercial grade food processor, however, checking with the manufacturer, they do not recommend chopping bones with it. It will work for sure, however, it may damage the blade faster. So, my mom decided to just chop the bones with a cleaver. So, check your manual or the manufacturer if you do decide to use food processor to chop the bones.
I have many people asked me about consuming alcohol during breastfeeding period, whether it was safe or would the alcohol go to the milk. The answer is “The alcohol will be cooked off and there will be no alcohol left other than just the sweet taste from the DOM” If you are consuming straight alcohol without cooking, then that will go to your breast milk. I consumed this essence of chicken with DOM benedictine liqueur for full one month and I breastfed my daughter from day 1 until she was full 13-month old 🙂
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
- Bones of 1 Whole Free Range Organic Chicken - You can save the meat for other usage
- 3-4 slices of Dong Quay - optional
- 1/2 Cup of DOM Benedictine Liqueur - adjust to your liking
- 1 Cup of water
- Prepare your double boiler by filling up some water inside the pot and bring it to boil. Chop the bones with cleaver into small pieces. Not an easy job, but I saw my mom covering the area she's working at with large plastic cover because there will be some "splatter". Mix the chopped bones with 1 cup of water. Use a collapsible vegetable steamer or something like that to put your chopped chicken bones and Dong Quay
- Place this into the inset of the double boiler. My mom brought her traditional double boiler for this reason
- Double boil on a very low heat for the next 4 hours. The essence from the bones will slowly drip during that cooking process. The last 15 minutes of cooking, put in DOM Benedictine Liqueur. The alcohol will cook off but the sweet taste of the liqueur remains
- You will end up with a curd-looking like soup
Perhaps it doesn’t look that particularly appealing. I gulp down every single drop of it because I know this is a bowl of goodness (not to mention long hours of cooking for just one small bowl of essence) and I like the sweetness from the Dong Quay and the DOM Benedictine Liqueur. I must admit that this is something I look forward to every night. lol.