Long-simmered whole chicken

This is really a soup dish, but the chicken is served whole with the broth.

‘Long-simmering’ (the Chinese term is dun) is a very simple method of cooking. You first plunge the ingredient into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then rinse it in cold water before the long-simmering starts. The purpose of this rapid boiling and rinsing process is to seal in the juice as well as to get rid of the impurities of the poultry or meat. During the long-simmering, very few supplementary ingredients are used – or none at all, as in this recipe – and the seasoning, which again is usually very simple, is not added until just before the completion ofcooking, so that you end up with a dish of ‘purity’. Because of this pure and simple method of cooking, long-simmered food is very good for invalids, or if served at a banquet ideal as a ‘bridge-gap’ after several richly prepared dishes and before some more, even richer, food to come.

1 young chicken (about 3 lb /1. 4 kg)
2 spring onions, trimmed
2-3 slices ginger root, peeled
2-3 tbsp rice wine, sherry or brandy
plenty of boiling water
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and clean the chicken well before plunging it into a large pot of boiling water. Let it boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes, then take out the bird and rinse it thoroughly under the coldtap.

Now place the chicken in a saucepan or casserole that has a tightly fitting lid, add about 3 1/2 pt (2 litres) boiling water together with spring onions, ginger root and wine or brandy. Bring to the boil, use a strainer to remove the impurities that float to the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer gently under cover for 1½-2 hours, turning the chicken over once or twice and at the same time removing any impurities.

Adjust seasonings just before serving. The chicken should be so tender that one can easily tear it into shreds by using one’s chopsticks or the soup spoon.

Any leftovers can be warmed up and served again. Why not strain the liquid and use it as stock or as a basis for soup-making – vegetables such as cabbage, carrots or turnips (also known as Chinese radish or mouli) can be added to make it into a delicious and nourishing soup. You can pull the chicken meat off the bones and serve it cold with a dip sauce. Since the meat served without soup would taste quite bland, you will need a fairly piquant sauce to make it more palatable. Try one made of finely chopped garlic, ginger root and spring onions with soy sauce and chilli sauce.

© Deh-Ta Hsiung and reproduced with his kind permission.