Friday, 2 December 2022

#ewew cooks Poached & Steamed Chicken

I've never poached nor steamed a whole chicken at home before....and that's because, first and foremost, I don't have the knife skills or even know how to chop up a whole chicken properly.  Also, there'll be no-one to eat it other than me + I can easily get good poached chicken from the many chicken rice sifu-s (experts) or beautifully steamed yellow-skinned ones served at restaurants.  Chicken poached or steamed whole always tastes better (and you have to use kampung chicken or choi yin kai, not regular or broiler chicken).

I bought a kampung chicken from the wet market the other day and the chicken seller told me what type of chicken it was (in Chinese but I can't remember already) and that this one is slightly more expensive coz it's a female and tastes better!  Huh? @_@  Got such a thing, ah?  I usually get choi yin kai from him to make double-boiled chicken soup or I'll get it chopped into smaller pieces to cook a chicken dish.  But he said it'll be a waste of this RM47 chicken if used that way.  He recommended that I steam it coz, in a restaurant, you'll have to cough up RM80 - RM90 for this (he said)!  So he refused to cut it into small pieces for me cut and separated out the chicken legs, wings and breast for me leaving the carcass for me to boil soup.  I had no choice but to use the chicken legs whole.  So, I thought I'd try my hand at finally making poached an acceptable standard....but not the standard of those expert chicken rice stalls lah.

I consulted some guru-s (those in the food business) first before attempting.  First and foremost, I was told to take the chicken out of the fridge to let it come down to room temperature (don't make poached chicken with cold chicken...same concept of not putting a cold chicken to roast in an oven).

Bring to boil 1 litre water (or at least enough to cover/submerge the chicken leg).  I seasoned the water with a 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/4 tsp of crushed white peppercorns and a drizzle of garlic oil just to flavour the water a little (you could add on other aromatics like ginger, scallions, celery, carrots or onions if you like or you could also use an already made stock that you have).  Bring the water to a rapid boil, submerge the chicken leg and switch off your stove.

Close the lid and let it steep in the hot water/stock for 30 minutes (I was given this timing by a wantan mee sifu).  I think the time is very dependent on the amount of water used.  I used a small saucepan, so I decided to steep mine for 45 minutes.  I was told that when it's done, the chicken should float up.  But when it's a small saucepan, it's difficult to judge if it's floating up (unlike the wantan mee seller's big

Otherwise take it out and check the underside of the chicken leg to ensure there's no blood oozing out.  I took out the chicken leg to check at 45 minutes and it was still lightly bloody on the underside (at this point it was cooked but I like mine a little more cooked while some wouldn't be squirmish if it's slightly bloody).  So I reheated the stock slightly (as it would have cooled down significantly by now) and put the chicken back in to steep for a further 15 minutes.  Another way to check for doneness (as per another sifu) is to press it (at the joint, the thickest part) lightly and if the juices run clear, then it's cooked (mine was finally done in an hour).

Next, you have to dunk it into a bowl of water (you can use room temperature water) for it to cool down (or you can put it into an ice bath if you need it to cool down faster).  It should be sufficiently cooled in 10 minutes.  This step is to get that wat (smooth) texture in your poached chicken.

Once it's cooled enough to handle, you can chop the chicken into pieces (you'll need a Chinese cleaver for this).  Now this is the very reason why I don't do poached chicken at home coz my chopping skills is non-existent.  Not the prettiest of chopped chicken...but this is the best I can do! :D

Just before serving, reheat the steeping liquid, ladle it over the chopped chicken pieces and drain the stock away to warm it up again.  Do this several times.  For any poached chicken, you need a soy sauce.  I used 1 tbsp of soy, 2 tbsp of stock (the steeping liquid) and 1 tsp of garlic oil (more if you like it more oily).  Mix that in a bowl and pour it underneath the chicken.

Top with a generous sprinkling of crispy, fried garlic and finely shredded spring onions.  To get spring onions to curl...that's me trying to be a little chef-y (like how it's served at restaurants), shred them finely (in long strands) and drop them into a bowl of (room temperature or iced) water ;P

Serve with a fresh chilli dip (that I didn't make myself)...I got it from a place I eat at on a weekly basis (the lady boss and her mother are the sifu-s I consult for food and cooking tips).....hehe! ;)

For a homemade poached chicken, the taste and texture is satisfying enough as it was tender and went well with the flavourful soy sauce.  Of course it can't compare to the good and smooth ones like those poached chicken served at chicken rice stalls lah.  Seeing that this was my first time cooking poached chicken, I thought it was a fairly solid attempt.  Now that I've done it, it doesn't seem so scary unachievable anymore.

As for the other chicken leg, I made steamed chicken (as recommended by my chicken vendor).  Seeing that I'm hopeless at chopping chicken, I decided to chop the leg up first before steaming though it would be better to chop after (like how it's done in restaurants) but I know I wouldn't be able to handle chopping a hot chicken (I can't even do it well with a cooled down chicken). >_<

I rubbed the chicken leg with a bit of salt just to flavour the meat a little.  I was told to steam it for 15 minutes.  Since I'm using an electric steamer, I let it heat up for 10 minutes first before putting the chicken in (just like one would bring the water to boil if using a gas stove top).

How do you know it's done?  When you see the skin pulling away, it's pretty much done.  Otherwise, just flip the thickest chicken piece (near the thigh joint) to ensure it's no longer reddish.  Or when the juices released from the chicken run clear, then you know it's done.

In the last 5 minutes, pour in the sauce made up of soy + onion oil + (a tiny bit of) sesame oil + (a drizzle of) Chinese (or Shaoxing) wine to let it warm up.  The steamed chicken will release some juices which you can drain away (if you want a nicer presentation as it'll turn your sauce a little cloudy) or you could just use the juices to dilute your sauce (which I did...why throw away flavour, right?).  You have to let the sauce heat up in order to cook off the wine, otherwise your sauce will taste boozy.  Another way would be to heat up the sauce separately and pour it over the chicken once done.

What's better than pairing steamed (or poached) chicken than with chicken liver, right?  I did not steam the chicken liver together with the chicken as I was afraid the blood juices might steep out into the chicken so I boiled/poached it separately.

I love those chicken livers sold by chicken rice shops coz they know how to cook it just right to yield a soft and creamy texture...and although I love chicken liver, I can only eat one (or max two) at a time.  Anything more than two and it'll be too cloying for me as it's too rich (certainly not a plate or even half a plate like phonghongbakes!).  And if there's something I love more than chicken's chicken don't find many of those since there's only one chicken heart per chicken! ;D

As usual, steamed chicken (like any poached chicken) is best served with a chilli dip (the same one I got with the poached chicken).  I also made use of the chicken stock (the earlier steeping liquid used to poach the chicken) which I froze.  Just season it, reduce it a little and you have yourselves a nice and ching (subtle) soup to go with your meal.  So, don't ever throw away the steeping liquid.  You can add on more ingredients and make a good soup out of it or you can use it to boil your rice to make chicken rice (though you may also need to saute some chicken fat for that).

Because this one was steamed, the texture of the meat is a littler firmer than poached chicken but still adequately tender.  Serve that with lots of fresh coriander and you have yourself a meal of meat, greens, rice and soup...and that, to me, is pretty satisfying complete meal in itself! ^.^

As for the chicken wings, I steamed one (which was enough for me for one meal) together with one Chinese black mushrooms (sliced), one lap cheong (dried Chinese sausage), two chicken livers (my chicken vendor gave me extras) and a chicken heart mixed with a sauce of soy, garlic or onion oil and Shaoxing wine.  The inclusion of lap cheong I feel gives the dish a bit of sweetness and umami flavour.

This dish is a super easy one-dish meal that you can eat with a bowl of has meat, mushrooms, greens (just throw in some spring onions in the last minute of steaming) and sauce.  What more can one ask for when there's little to no wash-up to do except for one! ;P

For the remaining chicken breast, I was recommended by the chicken vendor to make porridge with it, so I took his advice.  He says to cut it up into small cubes and marinate it with some soy and sesame oil.  Once the porridge is done (as in reached the consistency you want and like), put in the diced chicken to cook.  The chicken cubes only needed 3 - 4 minutes to cook through.

I added loads of chopped coriander simply because I love the perfume-y fragrance and freshness it imparts to the porridge.  Just stir that through into the porridge when it's done.  Top with fried shallots for an even more delicious spoonful.

Because the chicken breast was not boiled to death, it was superbly tender and juicy for a nice and subtle tasting porridge overall (you could add a bit of chicken powder to amp up the flavours a bit more if you're not using any chicken bones to boil the porridge).  I was surprised I'd love the simple flavours that much, so I did the same thing with the other half of the chicken breast (I used one-half of a chicken breast with 1/3 cup uncooked rice to make one person's portion).

As for the chicken carcass, I simply made a soup with it (you could also use it to boil your porridge for more flavour).  And there you have it....I cooked one whole chicken....only!  Ah, six fulfilling, tasty and healthy meals + soup from one whole chicken...I consider that RM47 well spent, don't you? :P


  1. I don't have a cleaver at home and my chopping skill is suck too, so I always avoid to chop chicken at home. My mom will chop the chicken in small pieces for me whenever I ask her help to get whole chicken from wet market #Iloveyoumom
    From your photo, your chopping skill not bad at all, at least I didn't see broken bones.
    Was the steeping liquid appear cloudy with those impurities from the chicken? Did you sieve the broth?
    Your RM47 chicken definitely well utilized!

    1. No, the steeping liquid was not's the same one (I explained) in the photo which I made a light soup out of (the one with the coriander). Because the soup was not at a constant boil, it shouldn't be cloudy or, perhaps, it's also due to the type of chicken I used.
      Good chopping skills are those people who can slice the chicken (cleanly) with just one chop. More than once and your cleaver will not land in the same spot, thereby having broken bones. I use a 'cheat' way by making a small incision on the chicken and lifting up the chicken leg (along with the cleaver) before banging it down on the chopping (not how chicken rice experts chop their chicken)...and that's why I can't do that with a whole chicken. I suppose one can ask their moms to chop the chicken for them if their moms happen to stay near but, nowadays, you can always ask the chicken seller in the wet market to chop them up for you (mine even asks me what I intend to cook so that he'll know if he needs to chop them up into smaller or bigger pieces). ^_~

    2. Chicken seller at wet market definitely can cut the chicken in small pieces for the customers, but my mom said their chopping board is "not so clean" so she rather does it herself. :P

    3. Oh I see....then consider yourself very lucky to have your mom do it for you. Unfortunately the next generation (after us) won't be so! :D

  2. What brand/type of rice u use for making porridge?

    1. I use "Birds of Paradise" normal white, not fragrant's the same one for both rice and porridge.

  3. I love poached chicken! I might have tried cooking it at home maybe once or twice, just the thighs. I am also terrible at chopping chicken - it ends up all messed up LOL! At first I thought RM47 for one chicken is really pricey but seeing that you utilized it for so many dishes, it is definitely worth it. I remember one episode of Jamie Oliver's show he encouraged people to buy the whole chicken instead of chicken parts. Good lah, this post makes me want to eat chicken again. I think I can get kampung chicken from the market via GrabMart.

    hah..hah...I didn't eat the chicken liver all in one sitting. Do you like chicken gizzard? I used to request for chicken liver and gizzard from the chicken rice stall if they have it.

    1. If there's one thing I don't like about's chicken gizzard (never liked it from the beginning). Chicken rice stalls usually have add-on livers but not so much gizzards (I guess there's less demand for that). Lol...I know you didn't finish the air-fryer livers in one sitting but even in 2 or 3 sittings, it's still too much for me.

      Ya, you can eat just poached chicken in your carnivore diet and it's pretty fuss-free cooking...just boil the water, dunk the chicken leg in and let it steep for an hour. You don't have to chop it, you can devour the whole leg just like that, maybe even two legs? ;D

  4. That looks a lovely healthy meal, especially with those bright greens on top.

    1. Yes, anything poached or steamed is indeed a healthy meal. I like light meals like these.

  5. I was gonna ask if you made the cili sos yourself! haha.

  6. I have not eaten any chicken since November 2021 after my colon surgery as one cancer specialist advised me not to eat them because of the injections inside the chicken that could trigger cancer cells. In the end I still had relapse in March 2022!! I think I should eat chicken lah. Several people told me to eat kampung chicken which have no injection but I have not idea. I need to ask you to confirm whether it's true???
    I am drooling at your poached chicken with the generous coriander. I miss all the chicken rice, BBQ chicken wings and Nandos. Aarrrrrrrrrgh!

    1. I don't know if the kampung chicken we eat is subjected to any injections (since I'm not a breeder or supplier, lol) but I think it would be safer than the regular broiler chickens for sure. If you're worried about eating chicken, perhaps you can buy organic chickens (or those special breeds/brands) where you're assured of the quality. I think eating white meat is still better than eating red meat (as told by a cancer specialist to avoid). I also hear from a neighbour that sugar feeds cancer cells (don't know how true though).


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