Ingredients:
  • 1.5 Kg (approx 3 to 3 1/2 lb) young chicken
Sauce:
  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup Chinese rock sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn, roasted (easily roasted by placing in a pan over low heat until just browned but definitely not burnt)
  • 1 thick slice fresh ginger, smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick. (best to use true cinnamon and not acacia)
  • 4 cups water


Method:
  1. Rinse the chicken under cold water,drain and pat dry.
  2. In an 8 litre pot  combine the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, sugar, fennel seeds, star anise, roasted Szechuan peppercorn, ginger, cinnamon stick and the water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the chicken, breast side down. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook the chicken for 45 minutes, turning over once or twice and making sure it cooks for an even amount of time on both sides. Baste the chicken for a minute or more each time you turn it over.
  4. After 45 minutes, turn off the heat and the let chicken sit, covered, (for those with probe thermometers: until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast reaches 80oC (170oF) .
  5. Remove the chicken from the pot, cool and cut into bite-sized pieces. Serves 6 – 8 (or 1/2 chicken will serve 4).
The cooking liquid can be re-used and in fact improves as it enriches. Store in a plastic container frozen.

Serve the chicken with a splash of the poaching liquid and a ginger and chive dipping sauce. For this just chop some ginger into a paste. Add some chopped  Chinese chives or scallions and mix it all together (use  a much greater amount of ginger than onion). Heat up some peanut oil until it smokes and pour it over the ginger/onion until it's well lubed  but not swimming in it.