This is an all-time favourite amongst family and friends who have tried it. It is based on a recipe by the brother-in-law of my friend, Belinda, and is a variation of the Malaysian favourite, Hainan Chicken Rice. It is low-fat and when eaten with steamed rice, the perfect protein and carbs combination – perfect for a healthy diet. The success of this dish is to use the best chicken you can afford, preferably an organic or free-range one, for its sweet meat and succulent yet firm texture.
Not a difficult dish to make but it does require a couple of hours from start to finish, so it is better to keep it for when you have the time. It doesn’t fail to impress and is one of my no-fail, go-to dish for entertaining. When presented in my vintage oval platter, it does not fail to impress and it is visually stunning!
For the chicken:
A large organic or free-range chicken (approx. 2kg or 4.5lb in weight)
1-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped and cut into thick slices
1 star anise
½ cinnamon stick
¼ teasp. 5-spice powder
200ml or 7 fl. oz. dark soy sauce
100ml or 3.5 fl. oz. light soy sauce
50ml rice wine
4-5 tbsp. sugar
½ cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally
For the ginger spring onion sauce:
3-inch piece fresh ginger, scraped and finely grated
3-4 spring onions, thinly sliced
¾-1 teasp. fine sea salt
2-3 tbsp peanut oil
For the chilli sauce:
6 red chillies, deseeded and cut into 2-3 pieces
1-inch piece fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and sugar to taste
- Prepare the chicken: Place ginger slices, star anise and cinnamon stick into chicken cavity. Sew the cavity tight by threading 2 sharp cocktail sticks through the cavity skin flaps.
- Place chicken in deep pot together with the soy sauces, rice wine, sugar and enough cold water to cover the chicken. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 15-20 mins. Then, turn the heat off and leave for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.
- For the ginger spring onion sauce: Combine ginger, spring onion, and salt in a small bowl. Heat the peanut oil in a small milk pan until smoking, and pour over the ginger mixture immediately. Stir well to combine, and leave 30 mins. for flavours to develop.
- For the chilli sauce: Place chillies, ginger and garlic into a blender. Add half the lime juice and blend until fine. Add salt and sugar to taste, and enough lime juice to achieve a spicy, sweet and sour taste.
- Arrange cucumber slice on the edges of your serving dish. I normally use an oval platter but any flat dish would do.
- At the end of the hour, remove chicken from the pot and place in dish. Brush the skin of the chicken with some sesame oil, and leave to cool for 10-15 mins.
- Pour about a pint of the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, bring to boil, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes to reduce.
- Place chicken on the chopping board. Start by removing the chicken legs, thighs and wings. Set aside while you remove the breasts and cut them across into ½-inch slices. Remove any other meat from the carcass, and place the meat neatly onto the serving platter. Fillet the legs and thighs, and add to the serving platter. Cut the wing tips off the wings, and cut the wing into 2 pieces at the joint. Arrange them on the platter neatly. Spoon over the reduced cooking liquid and serve the remainder in a small bowl.
- Serve the chicken with the two dipping sauce and the cooking liquid on the side. Delicious with steamed rice and a plate of sautéed vegetables.