July 2, 2021 3 Ingredients I 0.5 to 1 hour
With guaranteed tenderness, boiling is the most common way in Chinese cooking when preparing a whole chicken (or large blocks of meat of any kind). Since the cooking (water) temperature is constant and there is no risk of drying out, this is a super easy and fail-proof method – all you need is a timer. The unseasoned (yet flavorful) cooked chicken can then be seasoned in different ways in an instant and enjoyed over several meals.
Many people have asked me how one could possibly enjoy a boiled bland chicken (that is, before they taste it), and the answer is simple: the absence of strong seasoning during cooking does not equal blandness. Once you start to cook chicken this way, you will quickly realize just how flavorful a good quality bird can taste (I strongly recommend free-range pasture-raised chickens), let alone the irritable yummy smell that fills up the kitchen while you’re boiling it. A tiny pinch of salt is honestly all you need to enjoy the tasty and succulent chicken!
Of course, you can go a lot further than just salting the chicken. Check out my Mango Chicken Salad and Pulled Chicken and Carrot. Bot chicken salads can be prepared within minutes, with as much or as little chicken you prefer, a real time saver, and great for those of us who prefer to eat a whole chicken in small portions over several meals in different flavors.
If you are not going to eat up the whole chicken within a couple of days, once cooked and cooled, break the whole bird into portions and freeze in separate sealed bags. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using.
Store-bought cooked chicken tastes considerably drier (perhaps because they are dry roasted instead of being cooked in water and steam) and saltier to me, so I always cook my own chicken, then use it to prepare multiple dishes (which is a common practice among Chinese home cooks).
TENDER BOILED WHOLE CHICKEN
PREP: 5 min COOKING: 30 mins to 1 hour
- 1 whole fresh chicken, washed
- 1 thumb-sized ginger, sliced
- 2 spring onions, cut in half
- 12 Sichuan pepper corn (optional)
- Put the chicken into a large pot (the chicken should fit within half or no more than 2/3 of the pot). Add cold water until the chicken is completely covered. Boil the water on high heat, turn the heat down slightly, use a kitchen strainer to take out the foam on the top of the liquid until the liquid is clear.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, turn the heat to medium, cover the pot, and let the liquid bubble gently for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, keep the pot covered until the liquid is cool to touch (the cooking process will take several hours). Season and serve. Alternatively, continue to boil the chicken until cooked through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Transfer the chicken into a large bowl, cover the chicken with plenty of the cooking liquid, let cool, season and serve.
- Without strong seasoning to mask any unpleasant smell, the quality of the chicken is absolutely essential. I strongly recommend cooking with free-range (and ideally pasture-raised) chickens.
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