"Slow-braising chicken in a soy-based master stock has been in my repertoire since the early '90s," says Christine Manfield. "This classic Chinese technique results in the meat taking on the aromatic flavours of the stock and the skin developing a lacquered appearance after its time spent wallowing in the soy-based bath. The beauty of master stock is it can be reused, its flavour developing more fully over time. Keep it frozen unless using it daily, replenish when necessary and strain it after cooking to remove any impurities. It's an essential treasure for my kitchen. It's a bit like sourdough, a mother stock that needs constant feeding and tender care. The stir-fried beans in a pungent chilli sambal pay tribute to the earthy, spicy flavours common to Asian cooking and make an ideal partner to the chicken."
- 1 chicken (1.5kg)
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally
- 1 tbsp very thinly sliced ginger
- 1 tsp Sichuan spice salt (see note)
- 3 litres chicken stock
- 300 ml dark soy sauce
- 250 ml light soy sauce (1 cup)
- 100 ml Shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp yellow rock sugar
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 5 pieces orange peel
- 4 slices ginger
- 3 pieces liquorice root (see note)
- 2 star anise
- 2 red birdseye chillies
- 2 slices galangal
- 1 piece of cassia bark
- 1 black cardamom, cracked (see note)
- 30 gm shrimp paste, roasted (see note)
- 20 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
- 10 red shallots, thinly sliced
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
- 6 candlenuts (see note)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 250 ml coconut milk (1 cup)
- 90 gm tomato paste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1½ tbsp tamarind purée
- 30 gm light palm sugar, shaved
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 300 gm green beans, trimmed and halved
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
- 1 small green chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (see note)
- 2 tsp yellow bean sauce
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
- 3-4 clusters fresh green peppercorns (optional; see note)
- 1For Chinese master stock, bring all ingredients to the boil in a large stockpot, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour, then strain through a fine sieve and return to a clean stockpot over low heat.
- 2Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Lower the chicken breast-side down into master stock and poach gently for 10 minutes; stock should never simmer or bubble. Remove from heat, cover and leave chicken to steep in the stock for 2 hours to finish cooking. Remove chicken from stock, being careful not to tear the skin, place on a wire rack over a tray and cool to room temperature. Just before serving, carve the chicken Chinese-style: remove wing, thigh and leg joints and breast fillets from carcass. Chop into 2cm-thick slices crosswise through the bone, leaving wing joint whole, and drizzle with a little master stock.
- 3Meanwhile, for tomato-chilli sambal, blend shrimp paste, chilli, shallot, lime leaves, candlenuts, ginger, garlic and oil to a smooth paste in a food processor, then cook paste in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (8-10 minutes). Add remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until a thick paste forms with a layer of oil on the surface (25-30 minutes). Stir oil into sambal, remove from heat, spoon into a sterilised jar (see cook’s notes), seal when cool and refrigerate. Makes about 300ml. Sambal will keep for a month.
- 4For green bean sambal, heat oil in a wok or deep-fryer to 180C, and deep-fry beans in batches until softened and beginning to brown (1-2 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Heat another wok over high heat, add 1 tbsp of the hot oil and fry garlic, ginger and chilli until fragrant (20-30 seconds). Add 1 tbsp tomato chilli sambal (reserve remaining for another use), fish sauce, vinegar, yellow bean sauce, sugar, sweet soy and 60ml master stock and stir-fry to combine. Add fried beans and green peppercorns, and toss until beans are tender and coated with sauce (2-3 minutes).
- 5To serve, arrange green bean sambal on plates or a platter, top with chicken, spring onion and ginger and season with Sichuan salt.
To make Sichuan spice salt, dry-roast 1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant (30 seconds; see cook’s notes), then pound with 1 tbsp sea salt flakes using a mortar and pestle until finely crushed. Pass through a sieve to remove any large pieces. Liquorice root, black cardamom, candlenuts and Chinkiang vinegar are available from Asian grocers. Fresh green peppercorns are available in season from select Asian greengrocers.
Drink Suggestion: Wine suggestion Magpie Estate “The Gomersal” Grenache.