Chinese Poached Chicken

Yum. I make this as delicious as I can without a ton of salt which is generally synonymous with a lot of restaurant-style Chinese food. This is a “fairly” authentic recipe eaten in and around Sichuan, China, but definitely not just there. I’ve had it in Bangkok and Singapore…and even a version in NYC.

白切雞 (Bai Qie Ji)

This recipe was heavily influenced by various “khao man gai” (ข้าวมันไก่). It’s a super tasty recipe that will impress anyone who enjoys fragrant, clean, no-MSG style Chinese food. Not only that but this recipe works on so many other levels. Not only do you finally have something to do with all those coriander roots but you can also save the bath/broth for a future soup stock or stir-fry sauce. How great is that?

Culinary Notes:

Prepare the Sichuan dipping sauce ahead of time.

chengdu_sauce

A fragrant poaching bath is key. Important steps for silky, tender chicken? Since you are using skinless breasts, there is hardly any fat so you must poach on low-medium simmer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes it won’t be 100% done yet, that’s ok! It will finish cooking in the broth. You salt the chicken to break down the proteins. Now it will take on more flavors of the poaching liquid. You definitely want this to happen. Serious Eats breaks down the chemistry pretty well. A great read.

poached_chicken01

Chinese Poached Chicken Ingredients

  • 2 big free-range chicken breasts
  • 3-inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced thin. If you don’t peel the skin off it will turn the water a little bitter.
  • 1 tbl cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbl sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 2 scallions cut in big pieces
  • The stems/roots of 4-5 coriander sprigs
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves

The Method

  1. Fill a pot with 3 liters of water and put it on med-high.
  2. Add the salt and sugar
  3. Cut, peel, pound all your aromatics and add them in
  4. Bring that pot to a slow boil for 30 min. This builds the bath and gives it time to extract flavors from the ginger root and other aromatics. Go ahead and taste it. It should taste good and smell very fragrant.

poached_chicken05

  1. Put in your chicken breasts and reduce heat to medium simmer for 8min.
  2. Pull you chicken breast out and put them in a bowl.
  3. Pour the hot liquid over them and cover by about an inch.
  4. Let the liquid cool to room temp then cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
  5. Put aside 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid / stock.

Servin’ it up.

Prepare the Sichuan dipping sauce ahead of time

poached_chicken02

Cut some iceberg lettuce (I use this for the water it holds) or some Frisse into a bed.  Then cut the chicken into nice, thin bite-size slices. Sprinkle a bunch of cilantro (leaves only) on top. Dress the chicken lightly with Sichuan sauce and put the rest in a serving dish. Or just go the super quick route and dress the dish like I have above.

Enjoy the applause.

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2 Comments

  • this kinda reminds me of khao man gai, which is my all time fave thai dish.

    • It does but it’s a wee bit healthier since there’s no skin. The dipping sauce though is so very classic Sichuan.

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