Sunday, October 12, 2008

Salt Steamed Chicken/Yeem Kook Kai

Marinate Chicken with sea salt, ginger juice, shaoxing wine, pepper, a pinch of five spice powder.
Cut greaseproof paper into 10 " x 10" squares, use 2 layers for a piece of chicken, grease paper with a little oil. Place chicken in the center of paper
Wrap chicken up by letting 2 opposite corners to meet, then fold down in small folds, now let the other 2 corners meet and fold down. Tap up the open seam. Use a large bowl and layer the bowl with newspapers, push papers down to form a bowl, Fill 1/3 of 3 lb natural sea salt/coarse salt. Lay the chicken parcels on top of salt.
fill the top with the rest of the salt. Make sure the parcel are snuggled inbetween the salt. Cover the bowl with more newspapers and then overturn the bowl onto the countertop.
Fold the newspapers up to form a huge parcel and use tape to stick the newspaper in place

Put in the microwave and cook on 70% or medium level for 20 - 22 minuts. Remove parcel from microwave and let it sit for 10 minutes. Remove the tapes and tear open the parcel, be cautious as the chicken parcels and salt might be hot
Brush away the salt from the chicken parcel before opening the chicken packet.
Chicken is ready to be served, hot or cold. Enjoy

I have been wanting to try this Salt Steamed Chicken for a long time and the idea of getting 10 lbs of salt to cook the chicken puts me off, the salt costs more than the chicken. Yes, you will need this huge amount of salt for the whole chicken. So, I am being practical and instead of cooking the whole chicken, i use only chicken thighs only, the chicken has to be cut into pieces later anyway. Chicken pieces cook faster than the whole chicken, another thumb up for saving time and energy.
The conventional way of cooking this chicken is:
A large wok is required to hold the chicken and the salt.
The salt is wok fried until very very hot before you bury the chicken parcel, cover and cook until the chicken is cooked.
Play with your food, that is what my dear friend tt would say. Use whatever but not too strong a flavor as it might be too overpowering.
I like to add a very tiny piece of Dang Quai under the skin of the chicken pieces.


PenangTuaPui said...

hmm... so easy la... look easy la.. when do... dun know liao...

afraid to get the whole kitchen gone if try... hee hee...

then better not ... haha

lilyng said...


this is no fail, you got to give this a go, the chicken is so tender and the salt drew out the flavor.

Anonymous said...

sorry to sound.... can we put paper in the mw? will it explode?

lilyng said...


yes, paper can go in the microwave, there must be food along with it. the paper will catch fire if goes in the microwave alone.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing recipe to bloggers. I live in San Francisco and seen Salt Baked Chicken in Chinese Delis but never learn how to make it. Your recipe is so easy. I will try it tonight.


Aunt LoLo said...

I was so surprised when I read this post! My (Chinese) MIL taught me how to make "Yihm Guhk Gai"...and it is not even CLOSE to your recipe! She washes, and dries, a whole chicken, then rubs it down with salt and "yihm guhk gai fan" (chicken powder seasoning?) and lets it "marinate" in the fridge overnight. The next afternoon, the chicken is topped with a little julienned ginger and green onions and browned, skin side down, covered, in a large pot on the stove for about 20 minutes. After that, it is flipped around, brown side up, covered and cooked another 20 minutes or so, over low heat, until the chicken is cooked through. We dip this in a sauce of soy sauce, minced ginger, minced green onion and cooked oil.

does that sound familiar?

Aunt LoLo said...

Oops, I forgot to subscribe to comments so I can see your reply! Sorry. :-)

lilyng said...

aunt lolo

i have heard of this recipe of yours and to me it should be called - salted chicken/harm kai wherelse in malaysia, the salt is used to cook the chicken.

Anonymous said...

Hi aunty lily, is jiun just to let you that the tofufah can be make with the jelly powder instead of gypsum powder. I really can't find the gypsum powder here in Perth.

Anonymous said...


Just want to say what a great blog u have here and all yr food looks so good!

I am staying in the states (texas) too & u give me the inspiration that it's possible to still whip up our home town food despite being in a foreign land!

I will be following yr blog & trying out yr recipes!

Thank god for u! :P

Aunt LoLo said...

Oooh...thanks for clarifying! How funny that the recipes should have the same name in different countries! Yours DOES sound delicious...I'll have to give it a try. :-D Yummy la!

lilyng said...


i hope Perth readers can help as to where in Perth Gypsum is available.

You can add eggs into the soya milk and steam on slow fire, this makes pretty good soft egg tofu

lilyng said...

aunt lolo

Oven is not an essential in Malaysian kitchen, so the wok is heated then fire turned low and the chicken is browned and cooked by covering to keep the heat and then turned now and then, until the chicken is cooked. The Chicken is very delicious done this way - slow cooking

Anonymous said...

Dear Auntie Lily,

Wow! Your microwave vision of salt baked chicken looks easy. I will try it too, thank you.
I agree with you, now a day the tradition method of use 10lbs of salt to bake a chicken in the wok, would put everyone off for sure.
I have learned something call: New method of making salt baked chicken, the chicken is marinated similar like what aunt Lolo does, but it’s even easier to cook, stuff the marinated chicken with a piece of ginger and green onion, rub a little cooking wine all over the chicken, put it into an electric rice cooker and press button, it would automatically cook like you would normally cook rice, turn it once in between cooking, in case of a large size chicken re-press the cook button once if need.


natasya said...


Can the salt be re-used?

lilyng said...


yes, the salt can be used again

Foong said...

Looks easy...maybe I'll try it one of these days...but like you, the thought of buying so much salt really puts me off..especially when we only buy salt like once in two years!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lily,
Ur salt steamed ck looks really yummy! Will try this recipe as soon as i can lay my hands on some coarse sea salt!

btw, u can find gypsum powder ie Sak ko fan in Perth at Chan Brothers in Melville ( next to Bunnings ) or Chan Brothers in High Road, Willetton.

Susanna, Perth

lilyng said...


thanks for the info. i hope anonymous will come and read this comment.

chumpman said...

Hm........the chicken looks juicy. What an great idea to make Yeem Kook Kai with microwave. I should have a try, it will be a good dish for Chinese New Year

Anonymous said...

Hi lily, Thanks for this recipe. I do not have a microwave. Would there be an alternative to this? Can i steam it in the wok? If so, what would the cooking time be?

lilyng said...


no microwave, then you would have to cook it the conventional way which is to use an old wok (cos the salt will corrode the wok and it cannot be used for cooking anymore) with a fitting lid.

Fry enough of salt (enough for the bottom and cover the chicken pieces completely) until very bot, bury the chicken parcels, cover the lid and cook on slow fire until the chicken is cooked. I have not done it this way before, so i cannot tell you the time taken for cooking.

R said...

Auntie Lily,
I have a cheat version of this salt-baked chicken. I marinade the chicken pieces with spiced salt (salt spiced with sichuan peppercorn) and bake in a low-temperature oven (300F) wrapped in foil with a little sherry and sesame oil till done. Works well and not a whole lot of clean up to do :)

Anonymous said...

i do it the more conventional way, but i wrap the chicken with lotus leaf (of course, pre-soaked, and 2 layers if you like) like a big nor mai kai. This adds extra flavor.

i wouldnt cook anything wrapped with newspapers - never know what chemicals, nasties are released when the ink or the paper itself is heated. And that is coming from someone that has no problems eating cheung fun cooked with borax.

Joycelyn said...

Hihi, greeting from Langkawi Island, west malaysia.

I enjoy reading your blogs~keep your good work!:)

Anonymous said...

Should not wrap up the chicken with newspapers as the ink from newspapers may get to the food. Moreover, newspaper ink reacts with high temperature may release other chemicals that can get to the food.

Anonymous said...

How many chicken pieces can I cook in one newspaper wrap? Can I put several pieces in one wrap? Thank you.

lilyng said...


you can cook about 6 pieces of wrapped parcels with the salt. Too many, then it will be too big for the microwave

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