Thursday, November 24, 2011

"The Strange But Wonderful Food Of Kuching 3" Kacangma 益母草薑酒雞 Chicken Braised With Motherworth Herb, Ginger And Rice Wine

Many cultures in Asia have their own postnatal tradition to help a new mother recover from the (often traumatic and stressful) pregnancy, labour and birth of a child - such practice is generally known as confinement. The confinement period varies from culture to culture but generally lasted between 30 to 60 days.

In our modern age; many had ceased to observe the more old fashioned or superstitious aspects of the practice but continue to follow the rather strict diet during the confinement period and kacangma is such a dish eaten by new mothers in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

Traditionally a confinement dish for the Hakka women in the eastern state, it can be found in many restaurants and many do cook it regularly for the enjoyment of the whole family.

P.S Known as kacangma in Sarawak; motherworth herb (Leonurus cardiaca) or 益母草 (yi mu cao in Mandarin, meaning weed/herb that is beneficial to mothers)  can be found at all Chinese herbalist. To all homesick Sarawakians, go to your closest Chinese herbalist if your "smuggled" stock is over :)

serves 6 to 8 as part of a Chinese meal
you'll need;
sesame oil for cooking
1/2 kg of ginger, finely minced  in a food processor, juice extracted
1/2 cup of motherworth herb (益母草)
1.5 kg of chicken, chopped (or chicken thighs)
2 cups of rice wine (米酒)
salt to taste* (optional)
*traditionally no salt is added for women in confinement

Cut chicken into manageable pieces.

Extract as much juice from the minced ginger as you can, reserving the solids.

Dry fry the reserved ginger on medium heat until golden and crisp, remove and set aside.

Heat up the wok again and add in the sesame oil. Add chicken and sir fry till fragrant, cover the wok and allow the chicken pieces to stew in their own juices for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add ginger juice follow by the motherworth herb and let it cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Finally add rice wine and salt and cook with the lid on until chicken is tender. Check for seasonings.

Serve as part of a Chinese meal.


  1. favorite confinement food. My mum will still cook now even no confinement.

  2. My Kuching friend made this for me once and when asked for the recipe, she told me the kacangma herb can only be bought in Sarawak. Thanks for clearing up the myth and I shall tell her about my new discovery too lol Thanks!

  3. Not sure I am in the confinement mood lol but thanks for posting something new and interesting!

  4. This is such a mouth watering preparation,can't wait to try it

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