Remember Nong’s Thai take on Hainan chicken in Portland? The bird poached in fragrant stock. Rice steamed just perfect. Don’t forget the famous dark, gingery, just-tart sauce.
Here’s our version.
Ok Imma make this quick and dirty, because this is a meal I associate with late-dinners or Friday evenings when Dad didn’t want to cook, while I was growing up. These are the best meals, and also ones I forget to share as I feel like most people already have their quick go-to’s. It takes minimal prep, is extremely healthy, and if you’re lucky you might have leftovers for lunch. I'm aware that the lack of colour on the skin may take some getting used to, but it's clearly clean-eating!
There are many variations of this dish, from the Thai-take on it, to the Hainese (HOI LAM GUY FAN|海南雞飯). Most Cantonese families will have it with steamed rice and boiled vegetables, making it is very low in added fat. Other variations of the recipe have fancy ice baths and salt scrubs to ensure the skin of the chicken looks as appealing as possible, but really now - ain’t nobody got time for that.
Right so let’s get started.
Pick up a whole chicken at the store make sure it’s super fresh.
Try to get a free-run chicken, because traditionally our aunties tell us that they have the ‘firmest’ meat not like that mushy stuff we get in North America.
NOTE: Please do not wash your chicken. DO NOT wash your chicken with water in the sink, because you will more likely get ill than if you skip the wash step. Washing with water effectively sprays campylobactor, a pathogen found in >60% of Irish chickens, up onto the counter and surrounding area. This is not a food safety lesson, but it kind of is.
Gently lift the chicken out of the hot water bath using stiff utensils like serving spoon/fork or kitchen tongs. The cavity of the bird will be filled with water so let that drain out and careful not to tear parts of the chicken.
Place it on a large plate to catch any juices
Pierce the drumstick with a chopstick (the real asian way), and if the liquid runs clear and not bloody, then your chicken is finished.
I would recommend using a temperature probe. Poke the probe into the thickest piece of meat without touching the bone. Your chicken is cooked at 160ºF or 71ºC.
While your chicken cooks (or bathes)…
Make it a nice sauce.
This. Sauce. Is. DEADLY.
It’s quoted to be as addictive as crystal meth by some, but it’s simple - just a grated ginger and chopped scallion/green onion sauce. It can be made into a vinaigrette, but let’s keep it simple.
Using these ingredients from the list:
2-inch nubbin’ of ginger
cooked or heated oil
1/2 tsp salt
Oyster sauce (optional)
Grate the ginger into a bowl, take care to keep the juice.
Add the chopped scallions
In a small sauce pan, bring the oil to smoke. Set aside to cool.
Add salt & oil the warm oil to the bowl and mix.
There we are, voila… poached chicken & deadly sauce.
Carve the chicken and serve.
If you need help carving look HERE (video) or HERE (pictures). We personally loved the instructions from Thomas Keller's ad hoc at Home book as well.
Few final notes:
Do you want to know how to make perfect rice, no measure, every time? We will share our secrets with you if you give us a shout-out below.
Reduce waste - the water that you used to cook the chicken can be saved and used in other dishes as a mellow broth.