This is the food dept.’s version of Shantung chicken the perfect addition to a Chinese New Year banquet. "Cooking a whole chicken for Lunar New Year symbolises prosperity, wholeness and the togetherness of family. Our recipe starts with 'white cooked chicken’. Once the chicken has been poached and allowed to finish its cooking by standing in a hot shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic and shallot stock, it is then drained, dried and deep-fried to crisp up the skin."
- 4 litres water
- 1 x 640 ml bottle shaoxing wine
- 100 g piece ginger, thinly sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 4 shallots, trimmed and crushed with a mortar and pestle
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1.8 kg organic chicken
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- steamed rice and lettuce cups, to serve
- 1 tbsp salt flakes
- 1 tsp five-spice powder
- ½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
Sweet vinegar dressing
- 250 ml (1 cup) Chinese rice vinegar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp light soy
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 small red chilli, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 3 hours 20 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour or overnight
Combine the water, shaoxing wine, ginger, garlic, shallots and salt in a saucepan large enough to hold the chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towel. Carefully lower it into the stock and bring back to a slow simmer. Cook slowly for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the saucepan from the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow to stand at room temperature, undisturbed for 3 hours to continue cooking the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the stock and reserve the strained stock for another use. (It would make a delicious Chinese soup.)
Place the chicken onto a rack over a tray and allow to cool for 20 minutes, then refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour or overnight is better to allow the skin to dry out. This will give a much crisper result once the chicken is fried.
To make the five-spice salt, place the salt, five-spice powder and white pepper in a small bowl, mix gently with your fingertips to combine and then set aside in an airtight container until required.
To make the sweet vinegar dressing, combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 10–15 minutes or until the syrup has reduced to 185 ml (¾ cup). Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Combine the syrup with the remaining ingredients and use as required. Refrigerate if not using immediately.
Once the skin of the chicken has dried, cut the chicken in half through the breastbone and the backbone so it is easy to handle when deep-frying. Heat the oil in a wok until hot and then carefully lower half of the chicken into the hot oil. Cook for 5–7 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel for 10 minutes before slicing to serve. Repeat with the remaining half of the chicken.
Slice the chicken and serve sprinkled with the five-spice salt and drizzled with the sweet vinegar dressing. Serve as part of a banquet with steamed rice and lettuce cups.
Photography and styling by the food dept.
Read about the food dept. in Blog Appetit, our curated list of go-to food blogs we love, with a focus on high-quality photography, trusted recipes, strong editorial themes and a unique voice and personality.