I prefer to celebrate this country's native finger limes in what's become my riff on the old-school stalwart.
- 1 chicken (1.6kg), rinsed and excess fat trimmed
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
White master stock
- 500 ml Shaoxing wine (2 cups)
- 100 gm ginger, thickly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, bruised
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and halved
- 3 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 80 gm white sugar
- 1½ tbsp finely diced ginger
- 125 ml lemon juice (½ cup)
- 60 ml fish sauce, or to taste (¼ cup)
- Flesh of 8 large finger limes
- 1For white master stock, place all ingredients in a large stockpot with 3 litres cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and gently simmer for the flavours to infuse (10-15 minutes).
- 2Bring stock back to the boil, add chicken breast-side down and weight with a plate to keep submerged. Reduce heat to low-medium (there should be no more than an occasional ripple breaking the surface) and poach for 14 minutes, then remove from heat and stand at room temperature for 3 hours to gently finish cooking (juices of chicken will run clear when a thigh is pierced with a skewer). Carefully remove the chicken from stock, being careful not to tear
the skin, place on a tray and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 3 hours to allow the flesh to firm up and skin to dry out (the drier the skin, the crisper it will be when fried). This can be done a day ahead.
- 3For finger-lime sauce, pound sugar and ginger to a paste with a mortar and pestle, then stir in lemon juice, fish sauce and finger lime.
- 4Place the chicken breast-side up on a chopping board and cut through the centre of the breast with a sharp knife or cleaver, then cut through the breastbone. Separate the halves with your hands, then cut down either side of the backbone to separate into two halves.
- 5Heat enough oil to cover half the chicken in a large wok over medium-high heat until surface starts to shimmer and oil reaches 190C. Carefully lower one chicken half into oil (be careful, hot oil will spit) and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp (6-8 minutes). Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining half. Cut into bite-sized pieces and serve hot drizzled with the finger lime sauce.