Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence

I’m sure many of us have tried essence of chicken straight from the bottle. Have you tried cooking with it? To me, this steamed chicken in chicken essence is a brilliant idea because you get more chicken essence (both soup and flavour) after cooking.

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For the uninitiated, “essence of chicken” (鸡精) is a bottled liquid nutritional supplement popular in Asia, made from cooking whole chickens down into a concentrated liquid. It is said to fight fatigue (you may remember the bottles our parents bought for us during exam fever) and for aiding recuperation after an operation or illness.

Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence Recipe

This dish is very easy to pull off. I always prepare the marinating sauce the night before (only 10 minutes), and let the chicken drumsticks marinade in the fridge overnight in a sealed food container (above). The next evening, all I have to do is to steam the chicken for 40 minutes. While waiting for the chicken, I cook the rice and prepare either a quick soup or vegetable to go with it.

Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence Recipe

I think the reason why this dish worked for me to combat fatigure was because the concentrated chicken essence provided a feeling of being very well-nourished. Placebo effect?! I don’t know ;)

Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence Recipe
For those who do not like to drink chicken essence, you may find it more palatable after being used this way in this chicken dish.

Steamed Chicken in Chicken Essence Recipe

You can use any favourite brand of essence of chicken. For best results, marinade the chicken in the sauce overnight in the fridge.


(A) Marinade

  • 300 grams (around four) chicken drumsticks
  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms caps soaked in hot water until softened & squeeze out excess water
  • 2 x 68ml bottled “essence of chicken/鸡精” original flavour preferred
  • 2 pitted red dates
  • 3 garlic cloves don’t peel or mash them
  • 1 tbsp Chinese wine (Shaoxing/Hua Diao)
  • 1/2 tsp wolfberries
  • 1 tsp ginger juice
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt to taste


  • coriander leaves


  1. Combine (A) to marinade for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight in the fridge.
  2. Transfer contents to a deep steaming plate. Steam at high heat for 40 minutes. Season the chicken essence broth with more salt to taste, only if needed. To serve, baste the chicken with the chicken essence soup and garnish with coriander.