In this Chinese recipe the chicken is poached very gently, then dipped in vinegar and maltose, dried and deep-fried making for the most wonderful crispy skin! Serve as part of a shared meal.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (157 votes)


  • 1 packet Chinese soup spices (see Note)
  • 4 litres cold water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 2 x 1.5 kg whole chickens
  • 2 litres white vinegar
  • 500 g maltose (see Note)
  • 1.5 litres canola, vegetable or peanut oil, for deep-frying  



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.


Standing time: 30 minutes

Drying time: 20 minutes

Hanging time: 1 hour

Place the soup spices in a muslin square or light tea towel and tie into a bundle. Place in a pot with the water and salt and add the whole chickens. Bring gently to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to stand for about 30 minutes. This will poach the chickens thoroughly without overcooking them.

Remove the chickens from the broth and drain for about 20 minutes till skin is dry.

Meanwhile, warm the vinegar in a saucepan over low heat to about 30ºC (hot without boiling) and mix in the maltose, mixing to dissolve.

Dip the chickens in the maltose and vinegar and then hang on hooks (preferably) or drain till the coating has hardened to a sticky consistency, about 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a wok and when close to smoking, fry the chickens, carefully, one at a time, until the skin is crisp and golden brown on all sides.

Drain on absorbent paper and chop with a cleaver into pieces to serve.


Available from Chinese grocery stores these contain star anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, fennel seed, dried orange peel and licorice.

Available in health food stores or Chinese grocery stores.