Poaching very gently is the secret to super tender and juicy chicken. This Cantonese classic can be served as part of a banquet meal but is just as good over noodles or rice with some steamed veg.
- 5 litres water
- 1/2 cup rice wine
- 1 whole chicken, about 900 g (preferably free-range)
- sea salt, for rubbing
- 4 cm piece ginger, cut into 4-5 slices
- 4 spring onions
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Spring onion sauce
- 6 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- small handful coriander, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
- ½ tsp salt
- 60 ml (¼ cup) peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp light soy sauce, or to taste
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: 35 minutes
1. Place water in a stockpot or large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat.
2. Cut off the excess fat around the neck of the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with a little salt, then rinse the skin under cold running water. This removes all the impurities from the skin. Rinse out the cavity, then drain well. Stuff the chicken cavity with the ginger and spring onions.
3. Once the water boils, add rice wine and season with salt to taste. Then, carefully lower the chicken into the boiling water (it should be fully submerged), reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently for 15 minutes. The water should bubble only very gently. Turn off the heat and let the chicken gently poach in the stock for about 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, for the spring onion sauce, combine the ginger, spring onions, coriander and salt in a small heatproof bowl. Heat the oil in a small saucepan until nearly smoking, then carefully pour the hot oil over the ginger and spring onion. It should sizzle. Stir to combine, then add the soy sauce to taste.
5. When the poaching time is up, use a sharp knife and poke it into the thickest part of the chicken. If the liquid that comes out is clear, the chicken is done. If not, poach for a few more minutes. Alternatively, insert the probe of a digital thermometer into the leg - it should read 75°C.
6. Carefully remove the chicken from the pan, making sure you drain the cavity. Place in an ice-bath and stand for 10-15 minutes or until cool. Drain again and pat dry. Break down chicken keeping breasts intact. Return bones to the pot for making stock, if desired.
7. Thickly slice the chicken breast and place on a serving plate alongside drumsticks, thighs and wings (if desired) and drizzle with the sesame oil. Spoon over the spring onion sauce, then scatter with the extra spring onions and coriander.
Diana Chan is exploring the many dishes of Asia within Australia in the brand-new series, Asia Unplated with Diana Chan.