I would love to share this wonderful dish, very healthy, nutritious and delicious. With so many herbs and vegetables, it’s one that is very good for health. It is high in fibre too.I usually cook it once a week, during the weekend. My children always help with the herbs and cutting up the vegetables. This dish came from the Hakka people, one of the many Chinese ethnic groups. It is called ‘lei cha‘ in their dialect. Translated, it’s called ‘thunder tea‘. How interesting! I was told that the Hakka people cook this after Chinese New Year to clean out the system after all the eating and drinking.
I was first introduced to this food by a Chinese lady many years ago. She invited us to her house for this. The table was full of dishes of green vegetables, finely chopped and cooked. There was also peanuts and tofu. We were each served some rice in a bowl. We topped it with whatever vegetables that we like. Then we scooped the hot soup over it. We fell in love with it immediately. I learned that the soup was boiled from ground anchovies, groundnuts, sesame seeds, ground herbs and tea.
Cooking this dish overseas, especially here in Aberdeen, Scotland, is almost close to impossible because I can’t get the full range of fresh herbs and secondly I can’t get all the vegetables that we like. Maybe it’s because I don’t know where to get them. But I have finally come out with my own simplified version of this ‘thunder tea rice‘ that my family likes very much. 4 herbs and 2 vegetables are enough to do the trick. Even my daughter who hates vegetables also like it very much!
It’s quite a lot of work cooking this but it’s worth all the effort. My version is actually a lot easier and quicker to cook. Of course you can add in more ingredients if you like. Things will be a lot easier if you are not a perfectionist like me…haha. I don’t use so many different types of vegetables, usually only 2 or 3. The vegetables that I cut are not that finely sliced, too, and I used my masticating juicer to grind all the herbs. To make things quicker I use 2 or 3 pots to cook all the vegetables at the same time.
Here’s my recipe:
2 whole chicken legs
Chinese tea leaves
Put the chicken legs into a pot. Add water and bring to boil. Continue to boil under low fire for about an hour. You can cook the rice at the same time. I use Jasmine tea as I love the smell. But you can use any Chinese tea.
Wash and cut the leeks and green beans finely. You can use other green leafy vegetables, too, like lettuce, mustard leaves etc, but my family loves these 2 the most. Pan fry them separately with some fried garlic oil and season it with some sea salt. I love it simple.
Ingredients E (seasoning)
fried shallot or garlic oil
Wash and remove the hard stems of the herbs if there are any. Blend them. I pass them all through my masticating juicer which grinds them very fine. I used quite a lot of each type. Use the amount that’s comfortable to you.
Make a jar of Chinese tea from the Chinese tea leaves in Ingredients A when you are about to blend the herbs. Make sure the soup is boiling. For your info, don’t seep the tea too long, about 5-10 minutes would do. More than that the leaves will start to release tannin which makes the tea bitter. Tannin is bad for health. That explains why Chinese tea in Chinese restaurants tastes awful after sometime. So, adjust the timing yourself when to make this tea.
Once the herbs are blended, add to the chicken soup and give it a quick boil and turn off the fire. Pour in the hot Chinese tea (without the leaves) and add the chicken stock and fried shallot or garlic oil to taste. The soup will be green in colour. I love that fresh, green look.
To serve, put some rice into a bowl, add some fried green beans and leeks and pour the soup over the rice and enjoy. Adjust seasoning according to your taste. You can add some fried shallots or garlic for extra flavour.
I must say this is my top favourite, healthy one-bowl meal. We always have a big bowl each. A friend of mine likes it so much that he always has 2 big bowls!
Have you tried this? Do you have a favourite one-bowl, healthy meal to share? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.
Quote of the day……
“We squander health
In search of wealth;
We scheme and toil, and save,
Then squander wealth
In search of health;
And all we get is the grave; We live and boast of what we own;
We die . . . and only get a stone.”