Master stocks are essential for poached and braised chicken dishes of China. In this recipe, Luke uses a Bresse chicken, which is a local French breed whose rearing is controlled by government regulations. The flavour of the meat is rich and well-known.






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (74 votes)


  • 1.6 kg whole chicken
  • 125 ml (½ cup) white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maltose
  • 1 litre oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Master stock (see Note)

  • 6 litres water
  • 250 ml (1 cup) Shaoxing wine
  • 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 star anise
  • 6 black cardamom pods, crushed


  • 125 ml (½ cup) oyster sauce
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) hot water
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp caster sugar


  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 green apple, julienned
  • 6 baby radishes, halved
  • 4 cm piece ginger, julienned
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 3 coriander sprigs

Cook's notes

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.


You will need to start this recipe 4 hours ahead of time. 

To prepare the master stock, combine water, Shaoxing wine, soy sauces and salt in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil. Tie the cinnamon, star anise and cardamom pods in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), then add to the pan. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes to infuse the flavour, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. (If not using immediately, the stock can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen until required. See note.)

Place the master stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, wash the chicken well under cold water to remove any viscera. When the stock boils, add the chicken, bring the stock back to the boil and turn off the heat. Allow the chicken to steep for 1 hour, then remove it from the stock and place it, breast-side up, in a colander.

Place the vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir through the maltose until it dissolves. Place the colander with the chicken in a large bowl and spoon the vinegar mixture over the chicken, taking care to cover it all. Transfer the vinegar that has collected in the bowl under the chicken to the saucepan and spoon it back over the chicken, then repeat the process twice more. Place the chicken in a cool, airy position for 2 hours to allow the skin to dry.

Place the oil in a wok and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Cut the chicken in half along the breast bone and place it, skin side up, in the oil. Fry, carefully ladling the hot oil over the top of the chicken, for 3-5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Once cooked, place the chicken on a cutting board, skin side-up. Use a heavy cleaver to separate the leg from the breast, chop the breast into four pieces, and chop the leg into three pieces.

To make dressing, combine all ingredients.

Combine all the salad ingredients in a mixing bowl, add 1 tbsp of dressing and toss to combine. Serve the salad with chicken, drizzling more dressing over the chicken. Serve with Dijon mustard.



• To maintain the stock, add 1 tbsp of salt and return to the boil. Skim off the fat and impurities from the surface, strain into another pan and allow to cool, then store as mentioned above.

• Each time you use the stock you will need to adjust the water level and seasonings. Top up with water to the 6 litre mark, add 1 tbsp dark soy sauce and 2 tbsp light soy sauce, and replace the aromatics about every third use. It is good practice to always taste the stock, this way you will understand if the seasoning and aromatics need adjusting.