This summer, I got a sore throat that turned into a cold and lasted for two months. My usual Wiccan-style cures of eating raw garlic, dosing myself with elderberry tincture, and drinking daily gallons of water weren’t up to the task. By July, I was ready to try any solution short of taking antibiotics. What finally cured me is the elixir that I make in the video; chicken stock made from black silkie chicken.
In the quest to restore my health, I turned to Chinese medicine for an herbal cure. A little research showed that I was plagued by a condition known as “internal dampness,” most frequently manifested by bronchial coughing and a stuffy nose. I read that people with a damp condition feel chilly and have poor circulation. The description fit me perfectly. The suggested solution was to cut out refined sugar, wheat, and dairy, all of which contribute to dampness. In addition, several sources mentioned drinking a stock made from black silkie chicken, a recipe I’m familiar with.
A few months ago, I wrote about making stock from the variety of chicken known as black silkie, as recommended to me by my acupuncturist in San Francisco, Dr. Angela C. Wu, and by my friend Anita Lee whose family runs Bobo Chicken, a company that raises and processes poultry. I knew the silkie stock was good for me, but it took getting sick for me to start drinking it on a regular basis. I also had another motivation; with my wedding coming up in April, I’m thinking about fertility and preparing my body for pregnancy. According to Chinese medicine, black silkie chicken stock helps to warm the body, strengthen the immune system, and overall create a healthy environment in which a baby can grow.
Since July, I’ve been down to Chinatown every few weeks to buy the silkie chickens. The guys at the poultry shop are nice enough to do the unpleasant work of removing the chicken’s head, and cutting it into quarters for easier cooking. The prescription that Dr. Wu recently wrote me was for two chickens per week, but I’m cheating a bit and only making one; hey, the soup takes four hours to cook, and I’m a busy career gal, so I’m pretty impressed with myself! Since starting my new regimen, my cold has gone away. I can’t tell if my body feels any warmer, as it’s still summer here, but I’m optimistic.
I’ve devised my own stock recipe, which combines Dr. Wu’s formula with my friend Anita’s family recipe. It has an earthy flavor that is more gamey than standard chicken stock, hints of sweetness from the dried fruit, and spicy undertones from the ginger and scallion. I hope that between the video and the recipe, you’ll feel confident about making the stock. It’s easy, but it requires a considerable time commitment. For my part, I find that the health benefits are well worth it.
My recipe for medicinal Black Silkie Chicken Stock
Makes 5-6 quarts of stock
If your butcher won’t cut up the chicken for you, or you are too squeamish to do it yourself, just put it in the pot whole; I’ve found that after cooking for several hours, it will fall apart on its own. In addition to the black silkie chicken, the recipe requires a few specialty items that can be purchased in Chinatown; these ingredients are very basic to Chinese medicine, and virtually all shops that sell Chinese herbs will carry these.
8 red dates
7 slices of dried Chinese yam
6 quarts filtered water
1 black silkie chicken, cut in half or quartered, head removed
1 bunch scallions
1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled
Soak the dates, wolfberries, and yam slices in cold filtered water for one hour. Strain and rinse thoroughly a few times.
Bring the 6 quarts of water to a boil. Wash the chicken well in cold water, then drop it into the boiling water. Return the water to a boil, then add the herbs and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer very gently for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool and strain. Discard the chicken and herbs. When cool, skim the fat off the top. The stock will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.