as seen in foodgawker #14400, 26.01.09
It’s Chinese New Year’s Eve today and the tradition is to have family reunion dinner together, it is one of the most important dinner in a year. Another one is on the Winter Solstice which is as important. For more Chinese New Year customs, please click here. Chicken is one of the dishes that cannot be missed in the dinner and in the old days, it is very important to have a whole fresh chicken (not frozen ones) freshly bought directly from the food market with the feet and head kept. Whole chicken symbolizes completeness. You can also cook a whole fish or whole prawns to symbolize completeness as well. However, with the recent outbreaks of avian flu, Hong Kong has banned selling of Live Poultry to combat this devastating disease. This is a very bad news to the Chinese as chicken is a very important dish in the New Year, also we have always believed that these fresh chicken taste much better than those centrally slaughtered.
Being abroad, this year, I tried to make a roast chicken in the Chinese way. The result was very satisfying, the meat was very tender, see the method below. This recipe was adapted from a Chinese cookbook I bought recently in Hong Kong from a home style cooking restaurant located in Central, Hong Kong called Snake Fen (蛇王芬) which has documented the valuable recipes of Paulina’s dad the founder of the restaurant. I was intrigued when reading the touching story behind of how this restaurant was started in the 40’s by the family and the passion and belief they have, with these two important elements, Snake Fen is able to sustain its business until today. I was lucky enough that that day I got a chance to have a little chat with the successor, Paulina and had made a new friend. If I haven’t talked to her I would have missed such a great cookbook.
- 1 Medium sized chicken (approx 1kg)
- Half handful “Golden Needles” (literally Chinese Translation of 金針), and day lilies in English; Fleurs de Lys Sechees in French
- Half handful Black fungus (雲耳)
- 1 tbsp Chicken bouillon powder
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 1 cube Red Bean Curd (南乳)
Sugary Vinegar water (this will help making the chicken skin more crispy):
- 80ml Honey
- 250ml water
- 60ml White vinegar
- Prepare the sugary vinegar water by boiling the above together and set aside.
- Hydrate the Fleurs de Lys Sechees & Black fungus with hot water.
- In a bowl, mix the above seasonings together and then add in the hydrated Fleurs de Lys Sechees & Black fungus and then stuff into the chicken.
- Seal/ close the cavity with long bamboo sticks.
- Boil 1 litre of hot water, and pour into a big deep pan, place the chicken into the boiling hot water for about 20 seconds, this will help to make the chicken meat more tender and smooth when cooked.
- Take the chicken out and pour the sugary/ vinegar water onto the chicken for 2-3 times. This will help the chicken skin more crispy.
- Place the chicken onto a baking tray and let it air dry for at least 3 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 190 C for 15 mins. and then place the baking tray and bake for 45mins to 1 hour. Turn the chicken to the other side and let it bake for another 20 mins.
- Take the chicken out of the oven when cooked and empty the Fleurs de Lys Sechees & Black fungus into a plate and pour the sauce into a small bowl.
- Add a cube of red bean curd into the sauce and stir until fully dissolve, heat in the microwave for 1 min and use it as a dipping sauce for the chicken.
I have searched in the internet to see if it was better to truss the chicken and I found out that with trussing, you may require extra cooking time which may make the chicken meat taste drier and tougher. Personally I think trussing is probably more useful if you are using a rotisserie oven.
Wish you all a Healthy, Prosperous and Happy Year of the Ox!!!
Snake Fen Restaurant
G/F, 30 Cochrane Street, Central, Hong Kong
Snake soup (蛇羹)
Glutinous Rice with Chinese sausages (臘味糯米飯)
Paulina and me