Chicken & Dumplings Chinese-Style :)

As someone who prefers summer temperatures over winter and who following surgery struggled with digestion and appetite issues, soup has been a regular staple in my life. It is also a great opportunity to reconnect with my roots. I know at least that a 1/4 of my blood consists of all the herbal chicken broths I was raised on as the child of Hong Kong Chinese immigrants, bonus if it was made with chicken feet ;)

Having cold-damp, post-holiday, stress-tummy, I decided to make this simple chicken soup for myself and my partner. It’s quick, simple, easily digestible and hence, nutritious and comforting. Oh and did I mention, it’s gluten-free!

Cooking time: ~45 minutes


  • 2 skinless chicken breasts or 4-5 boneless-skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp of salt, for seasoning the chicken + salt (or soy sauce) to taste at the end
  • 1/2″ tbsp brown sugar, for seasoning the chicken
  • 4L of water
  • 3 cups of either (or a combo of both!):
    Sui choy/Napa cabbage, chopped into 1″ chunks
    Daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1/2″ matchsticks
  • 2 cups glutinous rice flour + approx 1 cup of water
    Commonly found at Asian grocery stores, I find the Elephant Brand from Thailand is always available


  1. Season your chicken by massaging the sugar + salt, then put it aside for at least 30 minutes or even overnight, so the flavors will penetrate the chicken. It will also serve to flavor the broth.
  2. In a big pot, bring your 4L of water to a gentle boil.
  3. Place your seasoned chicken into the water and allow it to poach until cooked through. For thicker pieces of chicken, it may take up to 30 minutes. As the chicken poaches, you will notice the water transforming into a light broth. If desired, you can skim off the fat from the top, but it isn’t necessary.
  4. Remove the chicken and put aside to cool to a temperature where your can shred it without burning yourself!
  5. Turn down your stove to bring your broth to a simmer.
  6. Add your veggies and simmer till soft.
  7. While the veggies are cooking, mix your rice flour and water. Mix till you reach the consistency of playdough – soft, moldable, but no longer sticky. The measurements are an approximation, so you may need to make adjustments to yield the right consistency:
    > If your mixture is too sticky, add 1-2 tbsp rice flour to offset the water and mix again
    > If your mixture is too dry and you’re having trouble incorporating it into a dough, add 1-2 tbsp of water and mix again
  8. Pull pieces of your rice dough, roll into balls and gently drop into your simmering broth.
    I recommend balls no larger than 1″ in diameter, otherwise, they may not cook through.
    And for fun, I like making balls of a variety of sizes :)
  9. Watch for your rice balls to float to the top of the broth. This means they have now transformed into soft, chewy dumplings!
  10. Add your shredded chicken back to the broth.
  11. Season with salt or soy sauce to taste.
  12. Enjoy and thank your tummy for all the important work it does to help nourish your body :)

This recipe feeds 2 hungry humans or 3 humans of more moderate appetite.
It’s a fairly blank slate, so if you’d like to add additional veggies, ginger or green onions, mushrooms, seaweed, noodles, etc., so go wild!
It will keep well for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. Reheat before eating, feed your hardworking stomach something warm!

Chicken is an easily digestible form of protein, minerals and iron.
Rice for many is a well-tolerated grain and considered hypoallergenic. Glutinous rice also has a higher simple sugar content, which in TCM translates into being more nourishing and qi-blood building.
In TCM, sui choy is known for its ability to clear heat. It also helps to resolve dampness (such as edema, loose stools) and regulate water circulation.
In TCM, daikon has two major uses: (1) reduces food stagnation and (2) reduces phlegm. It can help relieve sluggish bowel movements, indigestion, burping, bloating, chronic cough, and heavy white phlegm.
And in general, veggies are a good source of dietary fibre, hydration, Vitamin C and minerals. Ideal for a post-holiday reset :)

In colder months, it is important to feed yourself foods that both compliment and balance the climate and your personal constitution. Logically, in cold conditions, consuming warm, cooked (in temperature and energetics) foods. By consuming something warm, you avoid shocking your internal organs, taxing your digestive fire and cooking is a method of “pre-digesting” your food. Overall, it will require less energy to breakdown and assimilate the nutrients derived from what you have eaten. Hence, soups would meet most of these requirements!

Those of you that do eat meat, I hope you enjoy this childhood recipe and stay tuned for another childhood recipe next month!

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