Zheng Ji

Steamed Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as Part of a Chinese Meal, or 4 as a Single Dish.

Appears in

On my first visit to my ancestral home, as part of the ritual of paying homage to our ancestors, I had to prostrate myself before the household shrines. As I did so, my cousin was dispatching a sacrificial chicken in the yard which was then quickly plucked and cleaned, rubbed with salt and steamed. The two of us offered it up to our common ancestors, bowing three times before the shrines. The chicken was then quickly cut into small portions and served to all the family with its ginger-spring onion sauce that brought out the full flavour. The liquid from the steamed chicken was poured over the rice for an additional treat. Even without ancestor reverence this dish is delicious.


  • One chicken, about 1.6 kg/3 lb
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

Dipping Sauce

  • Pinch of sugar
  • Β½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger root
  • 5 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


Rinse the chicken under cold running water and blot completely dry with kitchen paper. Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin of the chicken. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a heatproof platter, and set aside for 15 minutes.

Set up a steamer or put a rack into a wok or deep pan. Fill the steamer with about 5 cm/2 in of hot water. Bring the water to a simmer. Put the plate with the chicken into the steamer or onto the rack. Cover the steamer tightly and gently steam over medium heat for 1 hour. Replenish the water in the steamer from time to time. Remove the platter with the cooked chicken and pour off all the liquid.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, soy sauce, ginger, and spring onions well. In a small pan, heat the peanut and sesame oils until they smoke. Pour the hot oils over the ginger mixture. Chop the chicken into serving portions and serve immediately with the sauce.