Cantonese Poached Chicken

Cantonese Poached Chicken

There are few dishes that bring me back to my earliest memories of eating – almost all of them involved rice and some kind of soup. Growing up, my little brother and I had rice every night with our main dishes and there was almost always soup. My mom made soup every night – she believed soup is the cure and culinary medicine for any ache or fever. And you know what? I think she was right.

Raw Chicken Legs


Aside from my short stature (I’m 5’3″), I can’t complain too much about my health. I have my mother’s cooking to thank for that – her dishes are uncomplicated, wholesome, and always delicious. That lady knew what she was doing and she certainly won my little heart over whenever she made this simple poached chicken.

Ginger Scallion Sauce

Poached Chicken

This chicken is the first chicken I ever remember eating and I still love it today. Perhaps it’s the juicy meat paired with the mouthwatering ginger-scallion dipping oil. It’s so crazy simple and irresistable. This chicken dish is commonly found in many Chinese restaurants, but we all know it’s a little better when it’s made at home.

Chicken Legs

A few notes: Typically my mom poaches a whole chicken, but I couldn’t make that kind of commitment, so here’s another recipe for that if someone would like to try it. Once you’re done poaching the chicken, you can reduce the cooking water A LOT and save it to use as a stock for mild flavoring – just skim off the fat and the foam. (I actually used this stock to make rice to go with this chicken.) For the oil, use something mild so it won’t compete with the main ingredients.

Chopped Chicken Legs

Let’s poach some poultry!

Cantonese Poached Chicken
by W.

2 whole chicken thighs
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
2 scallion stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil (I used canola)
2 cloves of garlic
1 stalk scallion, chopped in half
2 1″ slices of ginger

In a medium to large saucepan, heat enough water so the chicken thighs can be fully immersed, but don’t place the chicken in yet. Add garlic cloves, 1 chopped scallion, and sliced ginger. Add salt to give the water a light brine – use a light hand.

Once the water comes to a boil, lower the chicken in and wait until the water just starts to boil, about a minute. Watch constantly because this all happens very quickly. Take it out carefully and run the chicken under cold water until it has cooled. Repeat this procedure twice more, making sure each time the water bubbles before removing the chicken and running it under cold water to cool it.

Now, reduce the heat to a low simmer and place the chicken back in. Place the lid on and let the chicken thighs gently simmer for about 20 minutes – the time will vary based on the size of the meat and heat used. Remove the chicken from the water and insert a therometer into the thickest part of the meat and make sure it reads at least 165F. Another method is to stick a fork or chopstick in and if the juices run clear, it’s done. Run the chicken under cold water again to cool it off. Then wrap it up and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

While the chicken is chilling, heat oil in a pan over medium heat. You can also use this time to heavily reduce the water and make a pseudo chicken stock. Add minced ginger to the pan and sauté for about a minute. Once it starts to get fragrant, toss in the chopped scallion. Add salt and cook until the scallions become tender. Add more oil if necessary and check for seasoning – you want this dipping oil to be very flavorful.

Take the chicken out and cut it up, skin and bone attached – that’s the way it’s traditionally served. They’re all meant to be together.


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