Madame So’s Wok-Roasted Chicken

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Homestyle Chinese Cooking

Homestyle Chinese Cooking

By Yan-Kit So

Published 1997

  • About

Even though my mother, So Lam Mo-yin, is more interested in fundamentalist Christianity than food, she nevertheless produces a superb chicken dish that all her children unanimously vote to be superior to any other of its kind they have tasted anywhere. Whenever we go home to Hong Kong to visit her, she will cook this dish for us to satisfy our deprived taste buds. Recently, upon my request, she wrote down the procedures for me in meticulous detail, which I have rendered from Chinese into English below.


  • 1 chicken, 2¾-3 pounds
  • teaspoons salt
  • 10 scallions, trimmed
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cloud ears, reconstituted and broken into pieces
  • 6 medium-sized dried Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted and cut into very thin slices
  • ounce golden needles, reconstituted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed but left whole
  • 3 thick slices fresh ginger, peeled
  • 8 segments (1 whole) star anise
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 8 tablespoons water


  • 4 tablespoons thick soy sauce
  • teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or medium-dry sherry


  • Pat dry the chicken. Rub teaspoons of the salt all over the skin and in the cavity of the chicken and leave to stand for 30-40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, plunge the scallions into a wok half-filled with boiling water. Blanch for about 10 seconds to make them pliable. Pour into a colander and refresh them with cold water. Drain.
  • Make a knot in each of the scallions. Set aside.
  • Mix together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Prepare the stuffing. Heat the wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and swirl it around. Add the scallion loops, stir several times, then add the cloud ears and stir. Add the mushrooms and stir. Then add the golden needles and continue to stir for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of water, season with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, covered, for about 2 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove the stuffing onto a plate. Wash and dry the wok.
  • Reheat the wok over a high heat until smoke rises. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic and stir. Add the ginger and stir. Add the star anise and Sichuan peppercorns. Lower the chicken into the oil to brown over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning from breast to back and side to side and taking care not to burn the condiments. Pour over the well-stirred sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove the wok from the heat.
  • Place the stuffing into the cavity of the chicken. (This can be done either by removing the chicken to a plate or leaving it in the wok.)
  • Stand the chicken on its side in the wok. Add 4 tablespoons water and simmer fast, covered tightly, over a moderate heat for 20-25 minutes. Remove the lid, ladle the sauce over the chicken several times, turn it to stand on its other side. Add another 4 tablespoons water and continue to cook, covered, for another 20-25 minutes. Insert a chopstick into the thickest part of the thigh; if the juice which oozes out is clear, the chicken is cooked.
  • To serve it Chinese style, remove the chicken onto a chopping board. Scoop out the stuffing and place it on a serving platter. Carve the chicken through the bones into 1-inch pieces and arrange them over the stuffing. Pour the sauce, reheated to a simmer, over the chicken. Alternatively, the chicken can be carved like a Western-style oven-roasted chicken, and the stuffing and sauce served separately.

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