Oriental Boiled Bonus Chicken

“Boiled Chicken! You must be joking.” I hear you muse. But, this is no joke. Not only is this Chinese style boiled chicken delicious but it has a real bonus in store for you. But more of that later. This recipe uses a cooking method favoured by Chinese peasants. It is known as cooking on  reducing heat. In a country where firewood was in really short supply, this method had a lot to commend it.

Let’s talk a bit about the chicken. If you buy a bargain basement chook, costing less than a cup of sweetened coffee, you will get what you pay for. If you want to enjoy this chicken and also enjoy the benefit of the bonus, use decent chicken. I highly recommend a real free range bird. It will not appear to be cheap. But, you aren’t a cheapskate, are you? 



  • 1 chicken (reread the piece above)
  • 6 or so spring onions
  • 1 red chilli
  • 3 star anise
  • 5cm/2″ piece of ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic

Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Slice the ginger. Peel and bash the garlic (to release flavour) Slice the spring onions (including the greens and run the blade over the chilli to open it up (again to release flavour). Drop all the ingredients, except the chicken, into the saucepan.

The spring onions present the opportunity for a pouring shot of sorts.

(I actually dropped these into an empty saucepan to get the shot. It took me four goes to get it right. This has nothing to do with the recipe.)

Bring the pot back to the boil with the aromatics in. Lower in the chicken. Bring the pot back to a boil and boil uncovered for ten minutes. Turn the heat down and simmer the chicken for a further twenty minutes. Turn the heat off. Place a lid on the saucepan and leave it overnight to cool completely.

Gently does it. You don’t want to be splashed by that boiling water.

Now comes the bit that turns most people off this process. There is a certain satisfaction to getting stuck into this. Once you have done it a couple of times, it becomes akin to meditation. Stripping the meat from the bones is what I am talking about.

The cold, boiled chicken really doesn’t look like much.

Get stuck in. Lift the chicken from the saucepan gently. Let it drain into the pot. You will not need any utensils. Keep the pot in which you boiled the chicken near at hand. Pull the legs off the bird in a folding motion.

Oh, get on with it! You are behaving like a real jessie.

Run your hands under the skin. Remove the skin and jelly and return them to the pot. Do likewise with all the bones, shredding the meat as you go. When you are finished, you will have a big plate of nicely flavoured, succulent chicken meat.

Note that the brown meat is brown and the white meat is white. That’s a good chicken.

The bonus is you will have the basis of a fantastic soup in the pot. Simply add another onion and some black peppercorns to the pot and simmer it to make a delicious jellied stock. I usually get a litre (2 pints) of great stock from this dish.

It looks pretty gross. Don’t be put off. This is packed with flavour.


This is really delicious. We have it at least once every couple of weeks.

Serve it with some shredded chilli, ginger and spring onion. Try it with a sprinkle of chilli oil. A generous splash of soy sauce is great too. I often use the stock as the basis of a chicken risotto. It also makes for a lovely soup.



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Latest comments
  • Is this eaten cold, Conor?

  • Very similar to Hainanese Chicken Rice. Use the broth to make the rice and serve additional broth alongside

  • Nice spring onion dropping shot Conor.
    I do like garlic but think in this case it could overpower the delicate flavour of the chicken?

  • If you were introduced as Connor Drop Shot Boffin, people may think they’d encountered a renowned tennis pro, which you well may be. But your photography certainly merits the title!

  • Sounds delicious!

  • You know, I’ve had this recipe in my files “to try soon” for about 20 years. Refrain from jokes and snide remarks. Some people are slow. Very much so

    but I need to really go for it, particularly after your trademark shot of mid air onions – when I grow up I want to be like you, my friend!

  • Oh, I love poaching chicken. Firstly, the meat is so lovely and handy to use in whatever… but also it’s so fun to change up the poaching liquid. Just as you’ve done, with the Asian flavors. Perfect.

      • Yes, of course. I love star anise in broth, like when making pho. Such a unique flavor.

  • I’d only add one thing to this lovely dish: when you lower the chicken into the boiling water, make sure the water also goes inside the chicken so it cooks through properly. I’ve seen a boiled chook where air was trapped inside, and it was pink and jelly-like away from the surface. I also like a splash of rice wine and a star anise added to the water, and as Jim said, some of the liquid added to the rice cooking water.

  • I have been aware of the Hainanese Bai Qie Ji for a long time without making it myself. Have seen it prepared on many Australian Cantonese and even Vietnamese cookery shows. It is rime to find that perfect chicken and do it myself. The methodology is so simple and the results must be so succulent . . . . my scribbled-down recipes usually also include a dash of soy to be lost in the liquid but perchance add a touch of that umami . . . and, yes, even ignorant I love your pouring shots 🙂 !

  • Hiya Conor! Love your addition of spices. It is very common in China to boil a chicken and lots of times they use a black chicken with Chinese medicinal herbs. However yours looks so much more delicious and easy to do , so love that. Hope you are doing well. Take Care!

  • Wonderful 🙂 my PhD supervisor’s wife made me a similar chicken dish and told me how to cook it – it was a revelation. I think we had it with cucumber, rice and black rice vinegar for dipping – I must make this again – I love the dropping veggies in the pan shot 🙂

  • That would be a fusion risotto given the other ingredients in there. Love the scallion dropping shot.

  • Delightfully simple and it sounds gorgeous! I never mind pulling off the cooked chicken,,,it’s hacking up raw ones that gets to me. Well hacking might be a strong term! I always have to brace myself a bit for that. I’m impressed it only took four times to get the raining onion shot!! Being from the States, I’ll take the 5th on that cheapskate comment, lol!

  • This is definitely one of those dishes where you can’t compromise on quality. Made with a “factory” chicken it would be nearly tasteless, but made with a good one, it’s truly sublime.

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