Chinese roast chook: my path to coming to terms with chicken.

Chicken. It’s the worst.

Until recently, I actively avoided ordering chicken in restaurants. It could be dripping in truffles and prepared to tender perfection – I was still not about to order it. And don’t even get me started about bringing that white piece of poultry into my kitchen.

‘Why?’ I hear you ask. Because it is beige. So very beige. In both the literal and metaphoric sense. That’s why.

If I were to order, cook or consume chicken, my dining companions would surely whisper conspiratorially about how boring I was as an eater – and most probably as a person – each and every time I got up to leave the table for the bathroom. The Swede would leave me, I would have no friends and the whole world would descend into bird flu-induced chaos. And who wants that kind of stress? Not me…and not at dinner.

The turning point of my aversion to chicken happened when I moved to London…and realised that I simply cannot live without Sunday roast. I like pork roast, with its salty crackling crunch. Lamb with its refreshing mint sauce kick. And beef when it has a juicy, pink middle.

…But chicken is where it’s really at. Half a bird with expertly seasoned, crispy skin hiding succulent, flavoursome meat (the thigh and wing being my favourite). Of course, stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, a heart-clogging tonne of gravy and a healthy side of roast veg to balance it all out couldn’t hurt either. What’s not to love?

Unfortunately for The Swede, I have a tendency to catch onto things that take my fancy and refuse to let go until boredom sets in – following which, I drop everything stone cold. Just ask Mumford how many sweet treats and salty schnacks lay dying and unloved in the pantry of our family home: I love it, buy more please. I love it, buy more please. I love it, buy more please. I hate it, never eating it again. Get it out of my sight.

In this particular case, it means that The Swede can expect to see a rampage of chicken-based dishes gracing the dinner table for weeks on end. His only hope at this point is that I somehow quickly retire the ingredient out of sheer apathy.

Alas (for him), it continues. Oven-fried chicken, stir-fried chicken, baked chicken…and this. One of my favourites so far: Chinese roast chicken.

I will be sure to share some other beloved dinner time favourites featuring my newly found love of all things bird. But then again, perhaps not. If you never see chicken again on this blog, you will know that it is because my addiction has ended. Hard and fast.

Chinese Chicken

Chinese Roast Chicken

For the Chicken
1 whole free range chicken (around 1.5kg)
Peanut oil
1/3 cup good quality chicken stock
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
5cm ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 pinch coarsely ground white pepper
4 spring onions / scallions, trimmed
To serve: coriander (leaves picked), toasted sesame seeds and Sriracha hot sauce.

For the Rice
1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed
Toasted sesame oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 brown onion, finely diced
5cm ginger, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and brush all over with peanut oil. Combine stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauces, ginger, garlic and pepper in a bowl and mix well to combine before pouring it over the chicken. Add the spring onions to the pan.

Roast until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear when the thigh is pierced (around 1 hour and 20 minutes*). If the pan becomes dry, add a little extra stock. Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a splash of sesame oil before throwing in the onion and ginger, seasoning lightly to taste. Cook until softened and fragrant. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Once boiling, pour in the rice and bring it back to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat keeping it covered and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.

Taste the rice to test its doneness. If it still seems underdone, let it sit a touch longer. If it appears dry, add small splash of boiling water. Once you are happy, transfer it to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Scatter the chicken with coriander and sesame seeds and serve with the spring onions, rice and hot sauce**.

*The general rule for roasting chicken tends to be 20 minutes per 450g, plus an additional 20 minutes.
**If I have any on hand, I sometimes serve this dish with Chinese leafy greens (i.e. gai lan / Chinese broccoli, bok choy, etc), simply stir-fried with some sesame oil and oyster sauce.

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