Cold chicken with ginger and spring onion

Cold chicken with ginger and spring onion

You lin ji

By
From
Every Grain of Rice
Photographer
Chris Terry

This is my recreation of a dish I ate in a Hong Kong restaurant with my friend Susan and some of her friends. We were actually there for the green pepper crab, an electrifying potful of fresh crustacean with whole strands of fresh green peppercorns, but I couldn’t help being distracted by this delicious starter. It uses the classic Cantonese method in which sizzling hot oil is used to awaken the heady fragrances of a ginger and onion garnish. On that warm Hong Kong night, I think we had half a chicken, chopped up on the bone, but this recipe uses boneless thigh meat for convenience. A couple of generously sized thighs give enough for four to six people as a starter, with other dishes. It’s best to use poached chicken, which will be beautifully moist. I’ve given a method for poaching the meat here.

You can use a similar method to finish hot, freshly steamed chicken if you like: equally fabulous. Just chop the raw chicken, on or off the bone, lay it in a shallow bowl with a little Shaoxing wine, steam it through, then season with the chopped ginger, spring onion, oil and soy sauce as in this recipe.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 boneless chicken thighs, cooked and cold
2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
3 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons light or tamari soy sauce, mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Method

  1. Cut the chicken evenly into slices five to 10 mm thick and lay them neatly in a serving dish. Scatter with the ginger and spring onions.
  2. Heat the oil over a high flame until hot enough to create a dramatic sizzle when you spoon it over the ginger and onions (try first with a drop to make sure). Then pour the oil evenly over the ginger and spring onions, drizzle over the diluted soy sauce and serve.

To poach a chicken for Chinese cold dishes

  • You may use any cold, cooked chicken for the recipes in this book, but poached chicken is particularly silken and succulent. The classic Chinese method is to place a whole bird in a measured amount of boiling stock, return it to a boil, then leave it to cool in the liquid. If the measuring is accurate, the chicken will be just cooked by the time the stock is cool, but still a little pink around the bones. This produces chicken flesh that is moist but still a little taut, exactly the way Chinese gourmets like it. It’s a little dicey for home cooks, because of the health risks if the chicken is not sufficiently heated, so in general I recommend using the following method.

    Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before you start. Bring to a boil enough water to immerse your bird, without too much room to spare in the pan. Place the chicken in the water, return it quickly to a boil, then skim. Add a piece of ginger, unpeeled and slightly crushed, with a couple of spring onion whites, also crushed. Partially cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat so the liquid just murmurs gently and poach for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Pierce the thigh joint deeply with a skewer to see if the bird is done: the juices that emerge should run clear, not pink and bloody (you may find it easiest to remove the bird from the pan to do this). When the chicken is just cooked, remove it from the pan and rinse it in cold running water. Set aside to cool.

    If you are using smaller amounts of chicken, such as a boned thigh or two, poach them similarly but in less water and for a shorter time. And if you are using a spectacularly good free-range capon or another fine bird, consider poaching it whole, chopping it up on the bone, and serving it at room temperature with nothing but a dip of tamari soy sauce.
Tags:
Chinese
Sichuanese
Asian
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