Cooking chicken by boiling or poaching is easy and great for making healthy, oil-free, meals. It may sound bland, but this results in deliciously moist meat and a pot of chicken stock. When boiling or poaching chicken, you want to use meat that still has the skin on and the bone in, so you can purchase cheaper cuts of meat and save money while eating healthy. You can boil a whole chicken or pieces of chicken. Shred the cooked meat and use it in salads, sandwiches, wraps, soup or, my favourite, bang bang chicken (recipe here). Another healthy and simple way to cook chicken is by steaming (see recipe here).
How to Boil / Poach Chicken
Recipe adapted from Hong Kong & China Gas Chinese Cookbook
Use skin-on and bone-in chicken (1 whole chicken or several chicken breasts or several whole legs). Wash the chicken well under cool running water. Place the chicken in a large stock pot and add enough water to cover the chicken plus an additional inch or two. Cover the pot with its lid and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove and discard any dark coloured foam that forms at the surface.
Add 100 ml (3 fluid ounces) of cold water, carefully turn the chicken upside down using tongs, cover the pot and bring it back to a boil. Then simmer for 10 more minutes. Then add 100 ml (3 fluid ounces) of cold water, turn the chicken upside down again, cover the pot, and bring it back to a boil again. Simmer for 10 more minutes. (Note: The addition of cold water is supposed to improve the texture of the meat. This is also a technique that’s recommended for boiling dumplings.)
You can either repeat this process (starting with adding 100 ml of cold water) until the chicken is cooked through, or you can remove the pot from the heat and leave it to stand until the chicken is cooked through, up to 1 hour. Either way, do not allow the chicken to be overcooked or the texture of the meat will be too soft and unappealing. When the meat shrinks away from the ends of the bones, the meat should be cooked through. To check, pierce the thigh joint with a sharp knife and if the juices run clear, it’s done. When the chicken is just cooked through, carefully remove it from the pot and transfer it to a large plate. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred it into small pieces using your bare hands or two forks, or cut it up with a large knife. Reserve the boiling liquid and use it as chicken stock or freeze it for another day.