Confinement is an ancient traditional practice dating back 2000 years ago. The chinese believe that this is an important time for the mother to rest and restore her body as the woman’s body after childbirth is weak and vulnerable to chills. During this time, mothers are literally confined to the indoors, and expected to “sit the month out”. This practice comes with a list of taboos, with the most grueling being unable to shower and wash hair for the whole month. It is hard to imagine practicing this in the sweltering heat of Singapore! During the month, the mother is served with dishes consisting mainly of ginger, wine and sesame oil. We have compiled a list of confinement recipes to help restore the mother’s body back to vitality. Some of the recipes below indicated adding salt for seasoning, due to concerns about water retention, it is common practice to omit salt in the confinement food.
Chicken in Wine
The most common confinement dish is cooking chicken in wine. There are a couple of variations of this recipe depending on the type of wine used.
1. Drunken Chicken Soup
An extremely simple and flavourful recipe made with Shao Xing wine from whattocooktoday. This is a must for the confinement menu.
2. Red Glutinous Wine Chicken and Mee Sua
Hong zao ji or chicken cooked in homemade red glutinous rice wine is a local chinese foo chow dish. This nourishing and fragrant dish is a very popular confinement dish. There is another variation of this recipe on Noobcook as well – Hong zao mee sua. This flavourful one pot dish is a foo chew local delicacy, loved by many and not just consumed during confinement.
3. Steamed Cod with Herbs
This healthy steamed cod fish with herbs from anielliciousfood is a refreshing alternative to the gingery confinement dishes.
4. Pig trotter in vinegar
Pig trotter in vinegar is a classic cantonese dish prepared during the confinement month. This is also a dish for everyone, loved by the Chinese community. The tender, moist and succulent taste after long hours of slow cooking, flavoured by the sweetened vinegar is simply heavenly!
5. Green Papaya Fish Soup
This is a great confinement recipe which boost milk production. The fresh, sweet and tasty soup can be enjoyed by the whole family too!
6. Pig Stomach Soup
For some, we could hardly associate pig stomach as a delicacy. For many chinese though, the pig stomach soup is much appreciated with many slurping away. The peppery pig stomach soup is another typical confinement dish, which is much enjoyed by many chinese families.
7. Fried Rice with Egg and Vinegar
Nourish your body with this tasty and quick to prepare fried with ginger and egg.
8. Stir Fry Pork with Ginger
Stir fry pork with ginger and wine is a yummy homecooked dish that can be whipped up quickly. This fast and tasty stir fry is straightforward to prepare with basic seasonings, and can be enjoyed by the young and old alike.
9. Stir Fried Gai Lan Chinese Broccoli
During confinement, only certain vegetables which are not “cooling” in nature can be consumed. Gai lan or chinese broccoli is one of the common vegetables prepared during confinement.
10. Red Date Tea
The chinese have a deep seated belief that drinking water during the confinement period will result in water retention in the body. The chinese red date tea with longan is prepared for the mother to help to restore her energy. In this recipe by Wendyinkk, this formula offers the added bonus of promoting lactation!
11. Foo Chew Red Wine
Many of the confinement recipes calls for Foo Chew red glutinous rice wine. I personally prefer the homemade version of the rice wine over the store bought version. The freshly prepared homemade red rice wine is fragrant and sweet. If you are interested to make your own rice wine, masterwong13aunt offers a comprehensive recipe to make this wine at home for your own consumption.