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I'm making Pancit. To make the chicken I boil some water with ginger, reduce heat, add chicken and simmer for 20 minutes. Today when finished there was the weirdest gray residue on the chicken and that had foamed at the top. So strange. Is this from the ginger, the chicken or possibly from a new water filter? Have you ever seen this when cooking (boiling/simmering) chicken or ginger?

asked by CMTerp over 6 years ago
4 answers 4133 views
23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 6 years ago

I guess we are all stumped. I see foam when I boil chicken but it is usually cream colored. Not sure about the grey. I don't think the ginger has anything to do with it.

549d9fb3 53ef 4170 b68e 8bae2e055be7  dsc 0048b
added over 6 years ago

Whenever I make chicken stock or soup I always put the chicken into the water and let it boil for a while, maybe 15 minutes, before adding aromatics and vegetables as there is usually a greyish or beige foam. This lets me skim the foam off without it getting into the other ingredients. I'm not sure if the foam comes from the bones or the skin, but I think it's from the chicken in your case. It can definitely look a little greyish or dingy.

Cfdd183b f2d3 436f abf5 4a8285003ba1  monica
added over 6 years ago

Could it be your pan? If it's unfinished aluminum, that might be it. What kind of water filter do you use? I remember when I would change my Brita filter, sometimes I'd see some charcoal in the water in the first use.

Fff96a46 7810 4f5c a452 83604ac1e363  dsc03010
added over 6 years ago

The gray-beige foamy scum is coagulated blood and juices. It forms when protein is boiled; the hot water causes the outside of the meat to seize up, which squishes the juices out of the cool center of the meat. You can watch this happen every time you grill steaks or burgers. To reduce the amount of foam-scum produced, or to eliminate its occurrence altogether, introduce room temperature meat to room temperature water in a pot over the lowest heat possible. Don't allow the water to break a simmer; in fact, the water shouldn't even move.

Scum isn't bad. It's just unsightly. You can skim it off or scoop it out during cooking by using a net designed to clean aquariums ($2.85 at Petco for a net so very finely woven that it almost feels like fabric), or you can allow it to cool, rinse off the chicken, and strain the stock through a sieve lined with coffee filters or through cheesecloth.

Both ginger and garlic, and sometimes onions, will react to cast iron and aluminum cookware, carbon-steel knives and other foods. It doesn't always happen, but there are garlic-ginger mixtures that are lime green or turquoise/teal.

I'm curious: are you Filipino? You know how they say there are 100,000 lasagna recipes because there are 100,000 nonnas (Italian grandmothers)? Pancit is the same way. Most pancit is made by sauteeing, not boiling, raw chunks of chicken (preferably skin-on) in oil with onions and garlic and sometimes ginger, adding sliced celery and cabbage and matchstick carrots, and then adding liquids, usually soy sauce and water, and finally the noodles. Sauteeing before boiling is a great way to slow down or halt the production of scum.

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