Before moving to Kunming, Freedman was the managing editor of the American food magazine Saveur. She now contributes to Saveur, The Wall Street Journal, Imbibe, The Art of Eating and other publications.
This bright, spicy, herb-laden dish, is sometimes called 'ghost chicken' or guiji (鬼鸡). In Yunnan the dish is made with black-skinned chicken, with the skin left on for extra flavor and color. To approximate that chicken's flavor, it's best to use a free-range bird for this recipe.
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
5 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sawtooth herb, roughly chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons fish mint root, cut into one-inch pieces (optional)
2-5 Thai or bird's eye chilies, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon salt
juice of 3 limes
Begin by poaching the chicken breasts. Put the breasts into a pot with just enough water to cover. Season with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil, then cover the pot with a lid, lower the flame, and simmer for ten minutes.
Remove the pot from the stove and allow the chicken to sit in the hot liquid for another 20 minutes to continue cooking. After 20 minutes have passed, drain the liquid and set the chicken aside to cool.
Once the chicken breasts have cooled, remove the skin (if any) and discard, then use your fingers to pull the meat into thin strips. This should yield about two cups of meat. Toss the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Taste the dish, and if the flavor is not strong and piquant, add more lime juice or salt as necessary.
Serve cold and enjoy!
Top image: Georgia Freedman
Bottom image: Daguan Weekly