Thursday, May 12, 2005

Perfect Steeped White Chicken

This recipe is from Cheong Liew's cookbook MY FOOD. I have always followed this way of cooking the white chicken for the hainanese chicken rice and here is his quote:

A wonderfully versatile chicken dish: the meat can be used in salads, eaten cold or hot, or carved into slices in the traditional Chinese manner and served with a dipping sauce of soy, oil, shallot, ginger and spring onion. The meat is tender, succulent and delectable and the white and red parts are distinctly coloured. The poaching method using hot as opposed to simmering stock ensures that the breast meat is not tough or stringy, the great test for any whole chicken dish. The shallot and ginger offset the metallic taste which is sometimes present in plain poached chicken. A little red blood in the centre of the chicken bones is acceptable, otherwise the cooking time would be too long for the meat. To ensure a perfectly finished dish, the lifting and re-submerging of the chicken must be done without breaking the skin.

Drizzling soy sauce and warm peanut oil over the meat pieces will add to the flavour if you do not have time to prepare the dipping sauce. Peeled cucumber slices on the base of the plate adds colour and a taste and texture contrast. Country people, who eat mainly rice, use dipping sauces to add flavour to their meals.

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1.8 - 2.00 kg chicken
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 cm knob ginger
1 spring onion, pounded together with the ginger
1 tbsp rice wine
5 litres white chicken stock
1 slice ginger (extra)
1 spring onion stalk (extra)

Season the chicken cavity with salt, soy sauce, ginger, spring onion and rice wine and leave aside for 1 hour.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to the boil. It is essential that the chicken be fully immersed at all stages to ensure thorough cooking. Blanch the chicken, 1 minute at a time, a couple of times, carefully lifting it in and out of the pot under the wing, so as not to bruise the skin. This process of 'changing the water' washes the salted cavity of excess blood and impurities, and at the same time, seals the cavity. Remove the chicken, and refresh it in very cold water to firm the flesh and seal the skin.

In another pot, bring chicken stock to the boil with the slice of ginger and spring onion stalk then lower the chicken gently into the stock with a carving fork just under the chicken wing, taking care not to bruise the skin. Repeat the same lifting and submerging process used during the blanching process, this time to heat the cavity, which will be less cooked than the exterior. Then submerge the chicken completely in the stock.

Bring the stock to the boil, skimming off any impurities. Remove the pot from the stove and allow the chicken to steep in the stock for 25 minutes(30 mins for 2 kg chicken. Remove the chicken gently from the pot and place it on a serving dish to cool for 30 minutes. By this time the bird is fully rested and is ready for slicing.


2 cm knob ginger
2 spring onions, white only
1 tbsp light soy sauce
t tbsp shallot oil

Pound ginger and spring onion to a paste, add soy sauce and shallot oil.


3 tbsp oil/margarine/chicken oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic and shallots
1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
3 cups rice, washed and drained
4 1/2 cups chicken stock(use the stock from the above)
1 tsp salt to taste


Heat up oil, saute chopped garlic and shallot and ginger until fragrant. Add rice, salt and mix well. Dish into a rice cooker, add chicken stock and taste(add more salt if required). Leave to cook until dry and fluffy.


10 red chillies,
5 chilly padi
3 cm young ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
dash of sesame oil
2 tbsp chicken oil(scoop from chicken stock)
2 tbsp lime juice


Pound/blend red chillies, chilly padi and ginger.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients and adjust taste accordingly.


Add some sesame oil to these 2 sauces above

White Chicken Stock

1 kg chicken bones cut into walnut size pieces
2 sticks celery
1 leek
1 onion
1 clove
1 sprig thyme
1 small bay leaf
5 parsley stalks
pinch of salt
10 white peppercorns

To remove blood and impurities, plunge the bones in boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil and remove the bones. Refresh them in cold water. Place the bones in a stockpot and cover with 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities. Simmer for 11/2 hours.

Add vegetables and herbs and cook for a further 30minutes. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking process, add the salt and peppercorns. Strain the stock through a fine sieve, then through a muslin cloth.

Chill, then, when you are going to use the stock, or freeze it, remove any remaining fat.

What Chef Liew said about this stock:

Because it has not been exposed to dry heat, white chicken stock does not brown. It is used for general purposes, such as soups and sauces and for dishes where color is important, such as vegetables, rice and cream or white colored sauces.



Wandering Foodie said...

This is one of my all time favorite dishes, but I am impatient about lifting the chicken up and down and then rinses it. I just poach or steam the chicken. My favorite bird is a small grain fed free range chicken about 2.5-3lb.

lilyng said...


i too have been poaching the chicken in very hot boiling water and then steep in cold running water but since i have found this method of chef cheong liew and it was very much more 'whart'. a little effort is worth it.

i have more success with a larger chicken. pak cham chicken should be at least 4 lbs.

Anonymous said...

Hello Lily
I pretty cook my chicken the same way you have described.Although the resultant chicken is nice and smooth it does not have the firmness like those in restaurants and Chinese BBQ shops.Do you have the same result with your method

lilyng said...


to start with, the size of the bird for this dish determines the texture of the meat. bigger bird or free range bird have develop muscle while the smaller ones are younger and the meat will be softer and a higher percentage of water compared to developed muscles. even male or female bird have different meat texture.

Asians prefer freshly dressed birds rather the frozen ones.

i will not cook this dish with a bird not more than 2 kg or 4 - 5 lbs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily, I'm new to your site and am very interested in the steps of cookg the chicken. I have the following 2 qns :
1 When u mentioned 'blanch chicken' do u mean lifting the chicken under the wings up and down into stock a few times. Finally then submerge in cold water? If so, how long/many times must i do this before submerging into cold water?

2 'In another pot, bring chicken stock to the boil', can i reuse the earlier chicken stock in qn 1?

Sorry for being long winded but i'm really keen on cooking the chicken 'cos the last chicken rice i cooked the chicken turn out too cook hence tough.

lilyng said...


yes you are right. tie a string around the wings so that you can hold the chicken while it blanches. blanch for about 1 minute at a time. the no. of times does not matter, the skin of chicken has to look cooked then steep in cold water.

the first pot for blanching is only water and it is needed to cleanse chicken off the seasoning and such. dumped the water and clean pot of all scum. Put in chicken stock for steeping the second time. it is worth it but you could use water too if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lily, will try it again soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily

How do you prepare the white chicken stock?



lilyng said...


i have edited and added the recipe for white chicken stock. please check recipe.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your prompt reply. Will try your method the next time I make this dish. I do something similar with my soy sauce chicken (my recipe book calls it Kwangchow Bucket Chicken).

Anonymous said...


I live in Sydney and came upon your site when I did a google for local malaysian recipes.

I tried this chicken recipe this morning and it was a success though I found the blanching a bit of work.

The dark meat (thigh portion) turn out well - very "what" but the white meat (breast portion) was slightly well done.

Thank you for sharing your recipes on the wide wide world. Its very generous and kind of you. I've attempted and tried many hainanese chicken recipes before but none is as succesful as this one.


*14* by Regina B said...

ho aunt lily, the method that you follow seems to be very complicated ;) when i made this dish, i followed the method by Kylie Kwong which is much simpler. Simmer the chicken in stock for 14 minutes and steep in that stock for 3 hours. Well, I suppose it's longer in time but I find it much easier to do :D


Anonymous said...

Hello Lily,
What is shallot oil? Where can I buy this oil? Thank you:)

lilyng said...


i don't know if there is shallot oil for sale but it is just putting sliced shallots and oil in a microwave safe bowl, microwave on high, a minute at a time until the shallots are golden brown. Stop when the shallots are slightly brown as the hot oil will cook it further. you do not wait until golden brown if it so, spoon the shallots out of the oil as soon as it comes out of the microwave.

lilian85 said...

Hi I like this poaching method and this recipe sounds good. Do u need to drain the cavity each time u lift the chicken out of the stock/water? Which way do u submerge the chicken in? Also, would it be ok if I were to do the lifting/submerging process all in the chicken stock and not in the water? What difference does it make? Thanks if u can reply asap.

lilyng said...


you hold the neck if it is still attached to the chicken, if not, use a piece of string and wring it under the wings so that you can hold the chicken for dunking.

The purpose of dunking the chicken in plain water the first time is to remove any impurities but if you don't mind, you could just do it in the stock and poach the chicken in the stock.

lilian85 said...

Thanks for replying. So is it ok to poach the chicken for about an hour? How long to poach? Also, when i bring the stock to boil do i simmer it for awhile and then turn off the heat or immediately turn off the heat? Cos i think the secret is to never actually boil the chicken so that it remains moist, juicy and tender. And i was thinking of dunking in cold icy water after poaching to retain the firmness of the flesh. Is that a good idea? I'm making this dish tmr and I want to know all the correct steps so that it turns out perfectly.

Btw, really like your recipes especially the claypot chicken rice...keep up the good work!

lilyng said...


time for poaching depends on the size of the chicken, so it is best to check for doneness by pricking the thigh and if what oozes out is clear, then the chicken is cooked through. After dunking, bring the stock back to very hard boil and as soon as the chicken is put in, the temperature of stock will be lowered. Bring the stock back to the boil before covering the pot. Again, steeping time depends on the size of the chicken.

Putting chicken under cold running water is to stop the poaching further and for this step, try not to damage the skin of the chicken.

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