Hainanese Chicken

One of the things that makes Hainanese Chicken so freaking good is the aspic. This is the little jelly layer that forms underneath the skin as a result of the chicken cooking process and treatment. The ingredients are simple, the technique here is everything. Thank you to my friend, Em Lim, who’s the chef + mastermind behind Dabao Singapore for sharing this with me!

Ingredients:

  • One small whole chicken ~4 lbs
  • Salt, ideally coarse salt
  • 2 inch piece of ginger, thickly sliced
  • 2 scallions, cut into rough 3-inch sections
  • Half a head of garlic, cut through the cross-section
  • Dipping sauce of choice: you can do a simple diluted soy sauce and sesame oil sauce (we also added a little mirin, optional), or a scallion-ginger oil
  • Serve with: rice or sliced cucumbers (it’s SO good and refreshing just on top of some sliced cukes)

Tools:

You’ll need a pot that’s large enough to cover the chicken and can hold enough water to cover it by roughly 1.5x

To make:

  • Bring your chicken to room temp
  • Scrub your chicken with salt, ideally coarse salt, pouring salt on the chicken and then massaging the skin with your hands, making sure to get all the crevices. This helps to ensure a smooth, silky skin. Do the same with the inside of the chicken
  • Let the chicken sit in the salt for an hour, then, wash the salt off the skin
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil (large enough to hold the chicken) along with your aromatics of ginger, garlic, and scallions
  • Trim off the chicken butt
  • Lift your chicken up, grabbing it by its legs and repeatedly dunk it a few times (submerging and lifting the chicken) it in the pot of boiling water a few times. Repeat with the other side, holding the chicken by its wings. Do each side for about 30 seconds. This process helps to bring up the internal temperature of the chicken, helping it cook faster
  • Place the chicken into the pot and let it simmer covered on low heat for 35 minutes (a meat thermometer here is helpful especially if you have a larger chicken that may need a longer cooking time)
  • Remove chicken and submerge in an ice water bath, cooling the chicken and allowing the aspic to set
  • Coat the chicken with sesame oil
  • Butcher the chicken and then serve with dipping sauce of choice and crisp cucumbers and/or rice

Pro-tip: I like to throw the chicken carcass back in the simmering liquid and let it simmer for another ~3 hours to create chicken stock.



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