Hakka salt-baked chicken

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 - 6 people

  • 1 free-range organic chicken (about 1.8kg)
  • 3 spring onions, cut into 5cm-6cm batons
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 kg coarse rock salt
  • Steamed rice and lemon juice, to serve
  •  
  • Ginger marinade
  • 30 gm finely grated young ginger
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tsp ground sand ginger (see note)
  • ½ tsp five-spice powder
  •  
  • Ginger-spring onion dipping sauce
  • 50 gm ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped into 3cm pieces
  • 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • Pinch of caster sugar
01   For ginger marinade, squeeze the juice from ginger through muslin into a large bowl (discard solids). Add remaining ingredients and ½ tsp salt and stir to combine.
02   Remove and discard the fat from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place spring onion inside the cavity, then place chicken in the bowl or on a plate and brush all over with marinade and spoon some into the cavity. Refrigerate uncovered for 2-3 hours.
03   Two hours before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to bring it back to room temperature. Place two 30cm x 60cm sheets of baking paper on a bench to form a cross and place the chicken in the centre. Rub oil all over the bird and spoon marinade into the cavity. Wrap it in paper to form a parcel, ensuring there are no gaps, and secure with kitchen string.
04   Preheat oven to 220C. Spread salt on a baking tray and bake until very hot (30 minutes). Test heat by inserting a knife into the salt for a few seconds, then remove. If the blade is hot to touch, the salt is ready.
05   Carefully transfer a quarter of the hot salt to a large Chinese claypot or casserole, pushing some up the sides. Place chicken breast-side up in the centre and cover completely with remaining hot salt. Spray warm water over the top, cover with a lid and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Rest chicken in the casserole for 10 minutes.
06   Meanwhile, for ginger-spring onion dipping sauce, pound ginger and spring onion to a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle. Stir in oil and season to taste with sugar and salt.
07   Carefully tip out the salt covering the chicken and unwrap it. Pierce the thigh with a skewer to check the bird is cooked; the juices should run clear.
08   Transfer chicken to a chopping board, tip baking juices from paper into a bowl and keep warm. Split the chicken with a cleaver down the middle through the breastplate and backbone to halve. Remove legs and halve through the joint. Cut each breast through the bone into 2 pieces. You’ll have 8 pieces. Pile the chicken onto a platter, ladle over its juices and serve with steamed rice, ginger-spring onion dipping sauce and lemon juice.
NoteSand ginger, also known as kencur, is available from Asian supermarkets.

Topics:

TONY TAN, CHINESE, MASTERCLASS

Recipe:

TONY TAN

Photography:

BEN HANSEN

Styling:

CARLI FAINSINGER

FEATURED IN

Aug 2017

Aug 2017

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