This is the simplest steamed whole chicken recipe. Not only is it incredibly healthy, it results in meat that is moist, smooth, and tender. Since this is served with flavourful dipping sauces, there is no need to pre-marinate the chicken, so it makes for an easy weeknight dinner. The ginger scallion dip (recipe below) is also very healthy. Update: Someone asked me how to steam cook a larger chicken – I recommend doing two or more rounds (as necessary) of steaming with the heat on followed by steaming with the heat off.
I can’t help but think of my family (and laugh) whenever I make this. This almost never makes it to the table when my mom makes it for dinner. I have to give her credit for being persistent; She spent years trying to fight us off of the chicken while she prepared the other dishes. Whenever her attention was diverted, the four of us would descend like savages and run off with large chunks of chicken. She finally gave up a few years ago, and started steaming 2 chickens – one as an appetizer and one to last through dinner. 🙂
Steamed Whole Chicken Recipe
one 3 pound chicken (preferably organic or grain fed and yellow skinned)
ginger scallion dipping sauce (recipe below)
chili soy sauce (sodium reduced soy sauce infused with small red chilies that have been sliced thinly OR simply mix chili paste with sodium reduced soy sauce to taste)
Set up your steaming equipment (see here for instructions). I use a glass rimmed dish set on a rack in a wok of water. Wash the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt into the cavity of the chicken and place the chicken, breast side up, onto the glass dish in the wok. Cover with a high domed lid and turn the heat on to high. Once the water gets to the strongest boil and a lot of steam is escaping, set your timer for 20 minutes. Do not reduce the heat. At no time should you lift the lid. If you do, add 1 minute to your steaming time. After steaming for 20 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the chicken in the wok for 20 more minutes. Once again, do not lift the lid at any time. Then using thongs, lift the chicken carefully and pour out all of the juices from its cavity back into the glass dish that it was steamed in. Reserve this chicken stock and use it for making soup or cooking other dishes, or add it to your master sauce (see here). Set the chicken onto a clean plate and sprinkle salt over the entire surface of the chicken. Then cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. The chicken will be Just cooked through (you don’t want an overcooked chicken). When the chicken is cool enough to handle, use a cleaver to chop off the drumsticks, wings and thighs. Then remove the breast bone and back bones and chop the breasts into 4 or 5 pieces each, keeping the skin on. Plate the chicken pieces and serve warm or at room temperature with ginger scallion dipping sauce and/or chili soy sauce.
Ginger Scallion Dipping Sauce Recipe
1/4 cup loosely packed grated fresh ginger
3 stalks green onions, green parts and light green parts sliced thinly
3 tbsp vegetable oil
large pinch coarse salt
1 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
Traditionally, the vegetable oil is heated until it just starts to smoke and then it is poured over the ginger and scallions. This method works best with finely grated ginger. Season generously with salt.
However, if your ginger is very old or is coarsely grated, you could do the following instead: Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium high heat. Once the oil is very hot, add the ginger and stir constantly so that it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add a generous pinch of salt (use less salt if you’re going to use oyster sauce). Cook the ginger, stirring, for no more than 1 minute until it loses its raw bite. Note that if your ginger is old (ie. fibrous), it may take longer to cook. Then add the green onions and turn off the heat. Stir the green onions and cook until they just start to wilt. Then remove from heat and dish out. If you like more flavour, add the oyster sauce to the middle of the dip and serve. The oyster sauce will inadvertantly get mixed with the rest of the dipping sauce as people dip their chicken pieces into it.