Soy-poached chicken with sesame sha cha dipping sauce

Soy-poached chicken with sesame sha cha dipping sauce

Hong Kong Diner
Kris Kirkham

The process of cooking a whole soy-poached chicken is very similar to that of a Hainanese chicken. However, the BEAUTY OF CHINESE COOKING is that simple changes such as caramelizing a mixture of soy sauce and sugar may seem subtle in technique, but make distinct variations in flavour. The SLIGHTLY CARAMELIZED FLAVOUR of the chicken interacts well with the saltiness of the sesame dipping sauce.


Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.5kg whole corn-fed free-range chicken
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

The poaching liquid

Quantity Ingredient
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
3 spring onions
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 litres fresh chicken stock

The dipping sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons sha cha barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons sesame paste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper


  1. Remove the parson’s nose from the chicken and locate the wishbone with your fingertips – this crossbow-shaped bone is at the top of the breast, surrounding the neck joint. Once you have found it, poke a small paring knife in through either side of the bone and pull it out with your fingers. Then rub the salt all over the skin of the chicken.
  2. Finely slice the ginger and roughly chop the spring onions (scallions). Mix the Shaoxing rice wine, light and dark soy sauces and sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a very large saucepan or stockpot on a medium-high heat. Add the sliced ginger and spring onion and stir until the ginger is golden brown and slightly crispy, roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Once the ginger pieces are golden brown, add the star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves and stir for a further minute. Once you start to smell the aroma of the spices, increase to a high heat and add the rice wine, soy and sugar mix. Bring the sauce to a vigorous boil, stir once or twice to melt and caramelize the sugar, then pour the chicken stock into the pan and bring to the boil.
  5. Carefully place the chicken in the pan and top up with hot water from the kettle, so that the chicken is covered completely with liquid.
  6. Put a lid on the pan and simmer on a medium heat for 20 minutes. Now turn off the heat off completely, but keep the chicken in the hot stock for 40 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the chicken from the pan, reserving the cooking liquid, and submerge the bird in a separate pan of cold water for 2 minutes (this will keep the skin firm and moist). Then remove and set aside to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Traditionally the chicken is served at room temperature, sliced and jointed, but laid out much like a puzzle, so that it still resembles the whole bird on the plate.
  9. Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and serve on the side.
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