This is another simple and clean-tasting way to prepare chicken, this time poached in a fragrant stock flavoured with sand ginger.






Skill level

Average: 3.5 (1 vote)


  • 100 g fine sea salt
  • 1.2 kg whole chicken, well washed
  • 2 litres iced water
  • 1 tsp sand ginger powder (see Notes)
  • spring onion and ginger sauce (see Notes for recipe), to serve
  • steamed rice, to serve (optional)

Sand ginger poaching stock

  • 180 g sand ginger powder (see Notes)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) fish sauce
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 10 white peppercorns
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cm piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 spring onion, roughly chopped (or use any trimmings you have)

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.


Sitting time: 30 minutes

1. Dissolve the salt in 2 litres water. Add the chicken and leave to soak for 10 minutes.

2. In a saucepan large enough to fit the chicken, bring 2 litres water to the boil. Prepare the iced water in a similar-sized container.

3. Put the chicken in the boiling water for 1 minute, then put it straight into the iced water. This step will tighten the skin.

4. To make the poaching stock, pour 2 litres water into a saucepan that will fit the chicken. Bring to the boil over high heat. Blend the sand ginger powder and fish sauce to a paste and stir into the boiling water. Add the remaining ingredients and return to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.

5. Holding the neck of the chicken, lower the body into the water until fully submerged. Lift the chicken out of the liquid, then lower it back in again. Repeat the process five times. The purpose of this is to raise the internal temperature of the chicken to a similar temperature to the poaching liquid.

6. Leave the chicken in the pan and bring the poaching liquid to a simmer (around 80–85°C), then turn the heat off. Let the chicken sit in the liquid for 20 minutes.

7. Take the chicken out. Bring the stock to a simmer again, then return the chicken to the pan and poach for another 20 minutes.

8. Take the chicken out of the poaching liquid, transfer to a plate and cool to room temperature in the fridge before chopping.

9. Meanwhile, stir the sand ginger powder through the spring onion and ginger sauce. Serve with the chopped chicken, and some steamed rice (if you like).


• To make the spring onion and ginger sauce, mix together 60 g grated ginger, ½ bunch finley chopped spring onion whites and 2 tsp salt in a small heatproof bowl. Heat 80 ml vegetable oil in a small saucepan until smoking hot, then pour over the ginger mixture and stir to combine. Mix in ½ bunch thinly sliced spring onion greens and serve. This sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

• Sand ginger powder is made from dried Kaempferia galangal, which is a little closer to galangal than it is to ginger. Confusingly it is, however, sometimes labelled as ginger powder. Ask the staff at your Asian supermarket if they can help you find the right one. You can substitute galangal or ginger powder, but the flavour won’t quite be the same.

• Another way to serve this is to put the chopped chicken in a heatproof shallow bowl. Bring the poaching liquid back to the boil, ladle it over the chicken, then pour the liquid back into the pan. Repeat this about ten times to warm up the chicken. Serve warm with the dipping sauce.


Recipe from Hong Kong Local by ArChan Chan, Smith Street Books, RRP$ 39.99. Photography by Alana Dimou, food styling by Bridget Wald.