Kai Zhao (Chicken Wine)

Kai Zhao (Chicken Wine)

It wasn’t so long ago that I ate this almost every other day. This aromatic chicken dish – steeped in sesame oil, alcohol and plenty of ginger – is a typical staple for Asian women who have just given birth. In this part of the world, it falls under the category of “confinement food”.

I suppose people unfamiliar with Asian postpartum practices would find this very interesting. Confinement?! Well, yes … for a new mother, the trauma of birth (to the body) means that she is especially vulnerable to the elements. It is believed that her body is “yin” and needs lots of nourishing, “warming” food. She is advised to stay indoors (hence the term “confinement”) for a period of at least 30 days, for recuperation. During this time, she must eat a special diet too.

This dish – Kai Zhao (literally translated to Chicken Wine) – is my favourite confinement food. I always add cognac to it, which lends a heavenly fragrance and taste to the gravy. You do not need to be a new mother to enjoy this 😉 The best part of this dish for me is that rich, flavourful, soupy gravy. Now, THAT is liquid gold.


– 1 chicken, chopped into parts

– old ginger, sliced thinly (as much as you like)

– garlic, minced

– sesame oil

– rock sugar

– light soy sauce

– dark soy sauce

– water, about 1 soup bowl

– alcohol (cognac, DOM and Wincarnis are commonly used), about 3/4 rice bowl

* Note that you can adjust the proportions of the seasoning/alcohol according to your taste preferences.

1. In a skillet, heat sesame oil (in place of regular vegetable oil).

2. Add garlic and ginger and fry till fragrant. I load up on these!

3. Add chicken and stirfry till semi-cooked.

4. Add water, light soy, dark soy and alcohol. If you prefer a thicker gravy, add less water. You can add more alcohol if you like a stronger taste. Cover skillet, let chicken simmer until the flavours are infused and the alcohol has evaporated.

5. After a while, the gravy will thicken and darken.

6. Just before turning off the flame, add in the lump of rock sugar. Simmer for another 1 or 2 mins, then turn off the fire. I added spring onions today because I had some to finish off, but they are optional.

7. Serve immediately.

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Eva Rosenberg

Eva Rosenberg

Welcome to Eva's Kitchen where I share my adventures in cooking. My creations may not always turn out Pinterest perfect, but I usually end up with a funny picture or an interesting meal. Thanks for stopping by!


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