Shanghainese Drunken Chicken


At banquets, guests are often greeted with a platter of assorted cold appetizers as they sit down to dinner. These small dishes are meant to whet your appetite and may include delicacies such as jellyfish salad, sliced roast pork, sweet mayonnaise prawns, preserved eggs, and of course, drunken chicken. To “intoxicate” the chicken, it is marinated in rice wine for up to 5 days, so this is a great dish for making ahead.


1 3-pound chicken

1 ½-inch knob fresh ginger, smashed

Sea salt, to taste

1 ½ cups Shaoxing rice wine

Fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Place the whole chicken and the ginger in a large pot, and add water to cover. Bring the water to a simmer, and cook, covered, over low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about
 30 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook it, or the meat will be dry and tough.) Remove the pot from the heat. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow it to cool. Skim the fat and debris from the chicken broth. Set aside 1 cup of the broth, and reserve the rest for another use.

When the chicken has cooled to the touch, discard the head, neck, feet, and gizzards. Chop the chicken “Chinese-style” into bite- size pieces. Place the chicken pieces, skin on, in a large bowl and season them generously with sea salt.

Pour the Shaoxing rice wine and the cup of reserved chicken broth over the chicken, and stir to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 day or up to 5 days.

When you are ready to serve it, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and discard the marinade. Serve the cold chicken pieces on a platter, garnished with a few sprigs of cilantro.

Tip: This dish will produce about 2 quarts of liquid from the poached chicken— which you should wisely save as a foundation for soups such as the Hot and Sour Soup or Long Life “Supreme” Broth.


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