Ipoh bean sprouts chicken

Ipoh bean sprouts chicken

By
From
Have You Eaten
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Billy Law

If I had to name one dish that represents my hometown, it would be this one. I grew up in the city of Ipoh, in Malaysia, about two and a half hours’ drive north of Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh is located on top of a large karstic formation, and the water from the limestone deposits that seeps into the ground is thought to account for the region’s tasty food, such as Ipoh’s famous noodles, sar hor fun (flat rice noodles) — flawless, smooth-as-silk rice noodles. Even the bean sprouts in Ipoh are extra fat and crunchy!

This is a very simple dish to prepare and all you need is patience. The chicken is steeped in a water bath then dunked into cold water to stop the cooking process, so the chicken remains moist and succulent. The chicken is usually served with a bowl of noodle soup and blanched bean sprouts. The simplicity and clean flavours of this dish emphasise the quality of the ingredients used.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg whole free-range chicken
3 garlic cloves, with skins on
5 slices ginger
2 spring onions, white part only
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons light soy sauce, plus extra to serve
1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus extra to serve
1kg fresh  at rice noodles

Stock

Quantity Ingredient
5 slices ginger
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 spring onion, cut into 10 cm lengths
3 garlic cloves, with skins on
pinch ground white pepper
20g dried anchovies, soaked in water for 30 minutes then drained
95g dried soya beans
1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning

Bean sprouts

Quantity Ingredient
250g bean sprouts
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Garnishes

Quantity Ingredient
ground white pepper
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
fried shallots
1 large red chilli, thinly sliced

Method

  1. To make the stock, fill a large stockpot about three-quarters full with water (there needs to be enough water to submerge the whole chicken). Add all the stock ingredients and bring to the boil.
  2. Meanwhile, stuff the cavity of the chicken with the garlic cloves, ginger, spring onions and black peppercorns.
  3. Once the stock water is boiling, turn off the heat. Carefully dunk the whole chicken into the stock, breast side down, and slowly let the cavity fill with stock. Put the lid on and leave the chicken in the stock for 1 hour.
  4. Lift the chicken out of the stock and set aside on a tray. Bring the pot of stock to the boil again, then turn off the heat and put the chicken back in for a 45-minute bath. The chicken should be cooked by now.
  5. Lift the chicken out of the stock and dunk it into a large bowl of iced water to stop the cooking process. Leave the chicken in the water for 10 minutes, or until it has cooled down completely. Drain, discard all the solids in the cavity, then pat dry with paper towel and place on a tray. Combine the soy sauce and sesame oil, then rub the mixture all over the chicken a few times until it has a nice light tan. Loosely cover with foil and set aside to rest.
  6. Once again, bring the stock back to the boil over medium heat. Season with salt; now it should be a flavoursome soup stock. To prepare the bean sprouts, put them in a wire mesh ladle or sieve, drop it into the hot stock and scald for 15 seconds. Remove and shake off the excess water, then place the bean sprouts on a serving plate. Drizzle with the soy sauce and sesame oil, and garnish with white pepper, some spring onion and fried shallots.
  7. Chop the chicken up using a cleaver into friendly bite-sized pieces and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with a dash of sesame oil and a few good splashes of soy sauce. Sprinkle with a good smidgen of white pepper and garnish with spring onion, red chilli and fried shallots.
  8. To make the rice noodle soup, cook a handful of rice noodles using a wire mesh noodle strainer or a sieve in the same pot of soup stock for 1 minute. Strain, then place in a bowl. Repeat for the remaining noodles, cooking one portion at a time. Adjust the flavour of the stock with soy sauce, then ladle the hot soup over the noodles in the bowls. Sprinkle with a good pinch of white pepper and garnish with chilli, some spring onion and fried shallots. Place the chicken platter, bean sprouts and bowls of noodle soup on the table.
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Billy
Law
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