白斬雞 (báizhǎnjī) A pure-flavoured chicken dish–served cold it makes a great starter.
There are many variations on Cantonese
white cut chicken. All involve simmering and steeping a whole
bird. Most require some sort of light seasoning. I have tried
a few different versions but none are any better than this
recipe that I got from a restauranteur on the east coast of
Taiwan. There is no seasoning – none – a rarity in Chinese
cooking. The idea is to cook the chicken until it is just done,
before it starts leaking juices and flavour, and its fibre
starts to break down. The flesh should be firm and succulent.
The dish can be eaten hot but is more commonly it served cold,
which is how I prefer it. Serve as a starter.
2 kg (4 1/2 lb) whole chicken
Rinse chicken inside and out.
Put breast-side up in a large
pot. Add enough water to cover chicken.
Bring pot to boil.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn off flame. Skim off any scum on water. Replace
lid and let chicken steep for 30 minutes.
Pour off hot water leaving chicken in pot.
Pour in ice water and
immerse chicken for several minutes to prevent overcooking
and to seal in juices.
Chinese rarely sit down to a lunch or dinner that does not include soup (in the case of noodle soup, soup is the meal). Unlike the Western custom of having soup before the main course, Chinese prefer to eat soup during or towards the end of a meal. At a casual meal people tend to pick up the bowl and drink directly from it; in a more formal setting, spoons are required. At a banquet several soup dishes may be consumed, always with the traditional flat-bottomed ceramic spoon.