Empress Herbal Chicken


Empress Herbal Chicken


Clockwise from top – garlic, Tong Sum,  Chin Kung, Wolfberries, Licorice Stick slices, Dried Longans, Dried Red Dated. Centre – Wai San Slices      

Good afternoon, my dear friends 😀

Ah, it has been such a wonderful and relaxing 1 1/2 weeks for me whereby I didn’t have to cook and was simply very laid back being a couch potato,  catching (errr…more like being addicted!  😆  ) a few series of Hong Kong Chinese drama! 🙄  In a way, I was just being the “Empress” of my palace…errr….home and dictating the way things are done rather than chasing after my chores and having them rule me instead! 🙄  🙄  

Anyway, school was off and I have also taken my children to the shopping malls many times and that was also one of the excuses that I used for not having to cook. So, really, being a homemaker does have its advantages after all……. 😉  

So, what more befitting than a recipe for you today called “Empress Herbal Chicken”, which is actually a simple and easy recipe for a really nutritious steamed chicken dish. Usually, when I don’t want to spend too much time over a hot stove and the weather is too hot to have fried or baked foods (too heaty and may cause sore throats or gums), I’ll make this dish as it is my family’s favourite, too.

This dish is more commonly known as “Emperor Chicken” and the herbal mix bag to cook this can be purchased at any grocery stores and supermarkets, but my family never liked that commercial taste and prefers me to use whole herbs. You can call it by any name that you like, e.g. Janey’s Herbal Chicken, or Prosperity Chicken………in my case, I like to name it after me – Empress Herbal Chicken! 😆

Ingredients –

6 whole chicken legs, or 1 whole chicken


Marinade –

3 tbsps oyster sauce

2 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp rice wine, or any wine

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 whole bulb garlic, separated into cloves, skin on

2 cups water (more if you like more gravy)

3 tbsps cooking oil


Herbs –

(Note – usually I use the follwing herbs for this recipe, but some of them were not in the picture above. You can adjust them to suit your tastes)

1 heaping tbsp “Chin Kung” (good for blood circulation, a blood tonic)

3 slices of Tong Kwai (a blood tonic, good for those with menstrual problems)

1 large handful of Tong Sum (improve one’s “chi” and stamina, good for those always feeling tired)

3 tbsps wolfberries (high in antioxidants, good for improving eyesight and eyestrain)

6 Licorice Root slices (good in soothing throats and reducing phlegm)

1/4 cup dried longans (good for inducing restful sleep, for insomniacs)

1/4 cup of dried Red Dates

5 slices Wai San (Chinese Yam – good for kidneys and lungs)


Method –

1) Clean and wipe dry chicken. Marinate with the ingredients mentioned above. Set aside for a few hours, of if you have no time, then massage the chicken longer.

2) In a wok, heat up the oil and put in the garlic cloves. Stirfry for 2 minutes.

3) Lower heat to medium and put in the herbs. Keep stirring to prevent burning as the herbs are dry and do this for about 2 – 3 minutes until the herbs are aromatic and have a “smoke” smell.

4) Add in the water, bring to a boil – then lower heat, cover the wok and simmer for about 20 minutes. At this point, you can add more water if it dries up and check for taste by adding more oyster or soy sauce, a bit of sugar and salt. Thicken with some cornstarch-water mixture if you want a thicker gravy.

5) Pour the herbal sauce over the chicken in a casserole,  and steam over high heat for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and steam for a further 40 to 50 minutes, depending on how soft you like the chicken meat to be.

Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice. This dish tastes even better the next day and usually, I’d make a large batch of this recipe. 😉

Hope you like the taste of this Herbal Chicken! 😀


12 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    rozalia said,

    Dear choesf! 🙂

    One great recipe after another… Maybe in April, when I’ll go to Bucharest again, I’ll be able to cook it for Ina.



  2. 2

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Te pups, dearest Rose 😀

    I know what I can do – the next time I write to you by post, I will send you the herbs for this recipe so that you can cook it for your family and see if you like the taste. 😉 Then, you can call this dish “Queen Rose’s Chinese Herbal Chicken”! 😆

    Good night from KL!

    With love and hugs,

    choesf 😀


  3. 3

    yen1908 said,

    Hi choesf

    When I am a lost at what soup to cook, now i have the answer. I will try this out today! Thanks for your recipe! ):

    take care


  4. 4

    sweetrosie said,

    dear choesf – this sounds like just what I need (someone to cook for me) 🙂 day after day of 39C-40C heat. I need some healthy, restoritive food.

    I will write out the ingredients, and when I can bear to go to the Chinese grocer will take them with me.

    In the next few weeks I have a lot of reading to do, and a paper to write on the history, theories and applications of heating and cooling foods in Chinese medicine – a topic close to my heart as you know, and one I have learnt so much more about from your blog – thank you dear 🙂

    Goodnight our special Empress; sweet dreams 🙂


  5. 5

    rozalia said,

    Wow! This is more that i could imagine! Thank you dear Empress !

    dear sweetrosie, I could use some degrees from you, it is could up here :(.

    Ldies, please be patient with me; emails are coming soon,I promisse.

    Much love and hugs, rose


  6. 6

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hello there, ladies! 😀

    We are all “Empresses” of our own homes, ey? Hmmm…how nice if we can all meet up at a beach resort somewhere and have coffee or cocktails and have a foot massage at the same time! 😆

    Happy Visualization!

    Good night from KL,

    from Empress choesf 😆


  7. 7

    lilian said,

    Hi, if i were to do this with 4 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached) how long would i steam it for? I have a recipe book that says to deep fry the chicken after marinating then steaming it with the herbs and some of the sauce for 1 1/2 hrs. Would a longer steaming time means more tender and softer chicken? It won’t overcook the chicken like steam fish right? Thanks if u could reply.


    • 8

      happyhomemaker88 said,

      Hi there and welcome, dear Lilian 😀

      I usually use whole chicken legs for this recipe, too, as the meat is smoother. For that, I steam them for about 40 minutes over medium heat. It depends on how soft/tender you want the chicken meat to be – some like the meat to easily pull away from the bones and is soft, whereas my family likes it to have more “chew and bite”. 😉

      It also depends on the type of chicken used – if using a free-range chicken (ayam kampung), then the steaming time would need to be around 1 to 1 1/2 hours over medium heat for the meat to be tender and the flavours infused into it. It is okay, chicken cannot be overcooked in this way, unlike fish or seafood. 😉

      Happy Cooking! 😀

      With best wishes,

      choesf 😀


  8. 9

    thanks for sharing this recipe, I also prefer using my own herbs than buying packet ones. Is there an alternative name to Chin Kung? don’t think I’ve heard of this herb.
    i love your tips and recipes, your children are very lucky. and we readers are lucky too to have you share your knowledge with us. thanks again


    • 10

      happyhomemaker88 said,

      Hi there and welcome, dear Shannon 😀

      Sorry for the late reply 😳 ….and thank you for your kind comments! 😀

      An alternative to Chin Kung is “Tong Kwai”. The Chin Kung is usually used in herbal chicken recipes. For a plainer version of herbal chicken – I like to marinate some chopped up chicken legs with Tong Kwai, salt & pepper, oyster sauce, wine and red dates. My children like this recipe, too. 😉

      With best wishes,

      choesf 😀


  9. 11

    […] is still around, the quality of this dish seem to have deteriorated over the years. I found this recipe, which, while does not resemble the herbal chicken of yesteryear which I have been on a search for, […]


  10. 12

    chinese Whole Herbs

    Empress Herbal Chicken | Welcome to Happy Homemaker88’s Virtual Home


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