It has all the hallmarks of classic Cantonese village cooking
My grandmother used to make this home-y steamed chicken all the time when I was a kid, and I still crave it every week. It has all the hallmarks of classic Cantonese village cooking: honest ingredients, simple steaming, and an intense natural-flavored sauce that makes it easy to down a lot of white rice.
The key to this dish is not to overcook the chicken—it should be silky, tender and really fragrant. Many areas in Asia (including my grandmother’s home village of
Hoi-ping in China’s Guangdong province) prefer poached/steamed chicken “just done”, where the meat is just cooked through and there’s still a touch of pink at the bone. If you prefer your meat cooked longer, steam for a few extra minutes and check for done ness.
The best thing about this dish are the chicken drippings that collect on the bottom of the dish during steaming. These juices are full of flavor—don’t throw it away! You’ll want to spoon it over the chicken, the rice, everything!
4 fresh chicken legs, (drumstick and thigh together, ideally with back attached, it holds up nicer when steaming)
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing Wine
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- Pinch white pepper
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large knob fresh ginger, peeled, sliced and lightly bruised
- 6-8 whole scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 8 whole star anise, soaked in Shaoxing Wine or water
- To make the marinade, combine soy sauce, Shadowboxing Wine, salt, sugar and white pepper in a large bowl.
Add chicken legs and massage until combined. Add cornstarch and mix well. The cornstarch will help bind the marinade together and give the chicken its silky, slippery texture. Add oil and mix well. Let stand on the counter for at least 1 hour, or ideally, overnight in the fridge.
- Remove chicken from the fridge
1-2 hours before steaming and allow to come to room temperature.
- Place a metal steaming rack stand in a large wok or pot and add enough water to reach 1 inch below the top of the stand. Cover and bring to boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, place chicken legs in a high-sided plate or dish in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd the plate—there should be enough room around the chicken to allow steam to circulate and cook evenly. If you can’t fit all 4 chicken legs in the plate, steam in batches. Add ginger and scallions (leaving some scallions for garnish), placing them around and between but not on top of the chicken. Place 2 star anise on top of each chicken leg.
- Using folding retriever tongs(or regular tongs or heat safe mitts), carefully place the dish on the stand in the wok, cover and let steam over medium-high heat for
18-22 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices unclear. Garnish with remaining scallions, turn off heat and let chicken rest in wok,slightly
covered, for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Remove dish from wok, and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice and poached Gaiman. Spoon drippings over chicken and rice and