Slow-steeping in water flavored only with ginger and scallion produces a chicken of incomparably delicate flavor. The gentle heat makes the chicken retain its moisture, and one last step ensures that the chicken will remain juicy—the cooked chicken is plunged into ice water to firm the flesh and trap the juices. For maximum juiciness, the Chinese prefer chicken with the bones still red and the flesh satiny. This simple dish is usually served cold or at room temperature with a dipping sauce, soy sauce, or oyster sauce. This makes it an easy first course, served perhaps on a bed of watercress, or, for summer dining, a light main course. It can be prepared a day ahead and cut up at the last minute. The water in which the chicken cooks can be saved and added to stock. White-Cut Chicken can be used in chicken salad, chicken in aspic, or as a substitute for cold poached chicken. As a variation, instead of scallions and ginger, flavor the water with sliced carrots, yellow onions, celery, parsley, bay leaf, and thyme.
White-Cut Chicken is cooked whole to maintain its juiciness; just before serving, cut it into bite-sized pieces. This is a popular way to do that.
© 1981 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.