Salt-baked chicken

Salt-baked chicken

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

We were inspired to try Hakka Dung Gong Yim Guk Gai after talking to the local Hakka people in Fujian Province about the traditional salt merchants, who would cook their salt chicken in the ground. If there was ever a centrepiece dish for your table, then this is it — and the chicken is incredibly tasty. You can relax because no salt touches the chicken; it merely acts as a seal to trap the heat and steam ... and you don’t need to dig holes in your backyard to cook it either.


Quantity Ingredient
3kg coarse rock salt
1 x 1.6kg corn-fed chicken
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons sea salt
5 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 spring onions, cut into 1 cm pieces, white part only


  1. Put the coarse salt in a large wok over a medium heat and heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the salt is hot to the touch.
  2. Remove any fat from the cavity opening of the chicken and around the neck. Rinse the chicken well, then drain and pat dry with paper towel. Combine the rice wine, sea salt and ginger, then rub the mixture into the chicken. Put the spring onions in the cavity, then wrap up the chicken in a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), tucking the ends underneath the chicken. Secure one end with kitchen string and loop it around the muslin, securing the other end, to create an enclosed package.
  3. Using a metal spoon, create a depression in the salt in the wok, large enough to fit the chicken (you need to leave about 2.5 cm of salt in the bottom of the wok). Place the chicken in the wok, breast side down, then cover with the salt — the chicken should be completely encased in salt. Cover with the lid.
  4. Place the wok over a medium–low heat and cook for 1½ hours, or until the chicken is cooked through — the juices will run clear when the thigh is pierced with a knife or skewer (you will need to unwrap the chicken to check this). Remove the wok from the heat and use kitchen tongs to remove the chicken, shaking off the salt. Discard the salt. Cut the string and remove the muslin. Carve the chicken into portions and serve on a warm platter.
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