Salt baked chicken yim guk gai

Salt baked chicken yim guk gai

By
From
Hong Kong Diner
Serves
6
Photographer
Kris Kirkham

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 x 1.5kg corn-fed free-range chicken
2 lotus leaves, (available in Chinese supermarkets)
500g rock salt

The rub

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon mixed cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
2 spring onions
1/4 teaspoon five-spice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons oil

Method

  1. Cut through the back of the chicken and butterfly it by pulling the bones outwards, to open up the bird for a faster cooking time.
  2. Soak the lotus leaves in hot water for at least 30 minutes, to soften and rehydrate them. Cut off the tips of the leaves to make it easier to wrap them round the chicken.
  3. While the lotus leaves are soaking, poach the chicken for 10 minutes in boiling salted water, then carefully remove and place in a large bowl or pot of cold water. Once it has cooled down completely, remove the bird to a cutting board or plate and pat dry with a few sheets of kitchen paper.
  4. For the rub, toast the black pepper and sea salt for 1 minute in a hot dry pan. Finely slice the ginger and slice the spring onions (scallions). Mix all the rub ingredients together in a small bowl, then massage well into the chicken. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate, for a minimum of 1 hour and ideally overnight.
  5. Place the 2 lotus leaves flush with each other on the work surface and put the chicken on top. Wrap well in the lotus leaves and tie with cooking string (butcher’s twine) if necessary, to keep the leaves closed.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  7. Pour all the rock salt into a wok and cover with a lid. Bring the wok to a medium-high heat and warm up the salt for 10 minutes, lifting the lid and turning the salt with a wooden spoon every minute or so, then replacing the lid once again. The salt will make a constant ‘crackling’ sound throughout the cooking process and will be incredibly hot after 10 minutes in the wok, so be careful when folding and dealing with the hot salt.
  8. Line a large roasting tray with a piece of foil, large enough to wrap the chicken, and pour in half the hot rock salt. Place the wrapped chicken face up on top of the hot salt. Be careful – the salt will be extremely hot! Put on some oven gloves to protect your hands, then cover the chicken with the rest of the hot salt. Wrap the foil carefully around the top of the chicken and place a heavy-based pan on top to weigh the chicken down.
  9. Bake in the oven for 90 minutes. To check that the chicken is fully cooked, carefully unwrap it and poke a small sharp knife through the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked. If more time is needed, bake for a further 10–15 minutes, then check again.
  10. Carefully brush off the salt and leave the chicken to rest for 20 minutes, still wrapped in the lotus leaves. Then unwrap, carve the chicken as you would for a normal roast dinner and serve.
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