Warm Salad of Poussin Poached in Soy, Star Anise and Black Vinegar

With Baby Carrots, Tat Soi and Shiitake

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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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The cooking method here can be used for any poultry (poached chicken recipe) – just keep in mind that the larger the bird the longer you’ll need to cook it. The stock in which it is cooked is called a ‘master stock’. That’s because, in Chinese restaurants especially (and most restaurants where I have poached poultry), the stock is used again and again, and each time the flavour intensifies and becomes better and better.

A poussin is a small chicken, usually weighing 400–500g. It’s important you cook the poussin as directed below – any less and it may be undercooked; any more and it could become a little dry. You can serve this salad warm or cold – so long as you feel comfortable portioning a warm bird; just remember it may be a little slippery, so handle it with care.


  • 2 poussins, each about 450 g
  • 300 ml soy sauce
  • 100 g dark or pale palm sugar (or a high-molasses cane sugar)
  • 8 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 125 ml black vinegar
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 fingers of fresh ginger, skin scrubbed
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 20 baby carrots (you can peel them or just wash them well)
  • 20 shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 large handfuls tat soi (or use bok choy or pak choy)
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
  • 3 tablespoons crispy shallots
  • handful of picked coriander


Take any trussing string off the birds and rinse them under cool running water for a minute, then drain and wipe the cavity dry with kitchen paper.

Place 2 litres of water, the soy sauce, sugar, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, all but 2 tablespoons of the vinegar, and the garlic into a pot just large enough to hold the birds comfortably. Slice 2 fingers of the ginger and add to the pot. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Place in the poussins, breast side down, and bring back to the boil. Reduce to a bubbling simmer and poach for 14 minutes; turn the birds over and poach for a further 5 minutes. Cover the pot, take off the heat and leave to cool.

Peel the remaining ginger and thinly slice it (a mandolin grater is good for this), then cut the slices into fine julienne strips and mix with the lemon juice. Put to one side.

Once the poussins have cooled, remove them from the stock, strain it and put it back on to boil. Add the carrots and boil them until half cooked (slightly crunchy carrots are good in this dish), then remove them with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Let the stock cool completely before storing in the fridge (so long as you use it once every week), or freeze it. Every time you reuse it, check the seasoning and add either more soy sauce or water as taste dictates.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, score an ‘X’ in the cap and sauté in the vegetable and sesame oils until softened. Add the reserved black vinegar at the end and leave to cool.

Now you need to portion your poussins. You can either just simply cut them through the backbone using a pair of kitchen shears and serve 1 half per person, or you can remove the legs, cutting each in half through the knee joint, and then remove the breast from the carcass and serve a breast and 2 leg halves per person.

To Serve

Mix the tat soi with half the lemon-marinated ginger and all of the carrots, the shiitake and the spring onions. Divide this salad between the plates, then lay the pieces of poussin on top. Scatter on the remaining ginger and lemon juice, the crispy shallots and the coriander, and pour a few tablespoons of the master stock over as you serve it.