If you’re a fan of Din Tai Fung like me, you might have tried their poached chicken with ginger scallion sauce. That was the foundation of this recipe. Adding Sichuan chili oil is a personal touch.
But the driving force behind this dish is my daughter, Sam. She loves Hainanese chicken. But poaching a whole chicken takes so much longer than poaching a couple of thigh fillets. So, one day, after she had been asking for the longest time when I intended to cook Hainanese chicken again, I made this instead.
Because poaching fillets takes such a short time, it is best to make the sauces before you cook the chicken. Both sauces will benefit tremendously if you leave them to sit for a while. During this time, the flavors blend and any sharpness mellows down. By the time you drizzle them on your chicken, they will be perfect.
Ginger scallions sauce made with sliced scallions, grated ginger, salt and peanut oil. How much salt to use depends on your preference. As a guide, start with half a teaspoon, taste and add as needed. For a more loose sauce, add another tablespoon of peanut oil.
Making Sichuan chili oil sauce is a little more complicated. For starters, the ingredients list is rather long. And the cooking method involves several steps. But you can make a large batch and store the sauce. That’s what we do at home. The day I cooked this dish, the Sichuan chili oil sauce was already sitting on the counter. You’ll find the ingredients list and illustrated step-by-step guide in the linked recipe below.
If making Sichuan chili is too much work for you (or if you don’t have access to the correct ingredients), you may try to find it in Asian groceries. Note, however, that the quality and level of spiciness of Sichuan chili oil varies from brand to brand.
As for the chicken, I’m already anticipating the most obvious question in your mind. Will skinless chicken thigh fillets work? Not for me. And chicken breast meat, skin on or off, is an especially terrible choice. But that’s me.
If you really must substitute chicken breast fillets, you will have to be careful with the poaching to make sure that the meat does not get overcooked. But whether that means shortening the poaching time or otherwise modifying the cooking procedure, I cannot offer any guidance because I’ve never cooked this dish, or anything similar, using chicken breast fillets.
Whether using thigh or breast fillets, you will still need to give the poached chicken an ice bath to stop the cooking immediately. The ice bath lowers the temperature of the meat fast and, as a result, the internal juices settle down. That means those juices won’t spill out when you cut the chicken into strips prior to assembly.
Poached chicken with ginger scallion sauce
Ginger scallion sauce
To cook the chicken
- Make the ginger scallion sauce by mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover loosely and set aside.
Poach the chicken
- Put the ginger and scallions in a pot and pour in the rice wine and two cups of water. Stir in the salt.
- Pat the chicken thigh fillets dry with kitchen paper and slide into the pot.
- Set the heat to high and bring the chicken to the boil. Cook the chicken, uncovered, for three minutes (that allows the internal temperature of the chicken to reach or even go over 165F so you don’t get salmonella).
- Cover the pot, turn off the stove and leave the chicken thigh fillets to finish cooking in the residual heat for seven minutes to ten minutes, depending on how thick they are.
- Scoop out the chicken thigh fillets, dump into a bowl of icy water and leave them there for 30 seconds. Scoop out and drain well.
Assemble the dish
- Slice the chicken thigh fillets and arrange in a bowl.
- Drizzle the Sichuan chili oil sauce over and around the chicken.
- Gently drop ginger scallion sauce on the chicken using a teaspoon.
- Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and serve.