I have been gravitating towards simpler recipes lately. It has been getting hotter, and I am a tad tired of cooking after over 2 months of quarantine lol. This Chinese steamed chicken with ginger scallion sauce has always been a favorite of mine. It is something I always order at Chinese restaurants because it’s so simple but really yummy. This dish looks difficult, but it is actually really easy to make. It takes a little over an hour to make a yummy dinner for 4-6 people.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Chicken – I used a whole 3.5 pound chicken for this recipe. I would recommend using a chicken on the smaller side, so it can fit in the steamer pot.
- Salt – Salt is used to season and pull out the moisture from the chicken. I prefer to use sea salt for this dish, but you can use any kind of salt.
- Ginger – Adds flavor to the chicken and is used in the ginger scallion sauce. If you don’t have ginger or can’t find it, you can leave it out of steaming the chicken.
- Fennel & Coriander – Adds flavor to the chicken. If you don’t have these seasonings or can’t find them, you can leave them out.
- Green onions (scallions) – Used in the ginger scallion sauce. There are no substitutions.
Making my Chinese steamed chicken with ginger scallion sauce
Prep the chicken
The first step is to salt the chicken and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Make sure to get salt in every crevice of the chicken. The purpose of this is to allow the salt to penetrate all parts of the chicken, so it is really tasty. The next day, prepare your seasonings. Toast the coriander and fennel on the stove for 10-20 seconds. Add them to a small cheese cloth with the piece of ginger. Tie the ends together to make a little spice packet and stuff in the chicken.
The next step is to tie your chicken, so it is nice and tight. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Next use another piece of twine to tie the legs to the tail of the chicken. Lastly, use a piece to tie around the length of the chicken. The twine should go between the legs of the chicken and wrap around the length of the chicken. You can use one more piece to tie around the height of the chicken so it is easier to pull out of the steamer. This is optional.
Steam the chicken and make your sauce
Now it’s time to steam your chicken. Prepare your steamer by placing a plate onto your steamer attachment. Bring water to a boil. Place the chicken on top of the plate in the steamer. Steam for 30 minutes until the juices of the chicken run clear. While the chicken is steaming, make your ginger scallion sauce. Use a food processor to break down the ginger and green onions (scallions). Add them to a small bowl. Heat vegetable oil over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour over the ginger and green onions. Add salt and set aside.
After the chicken steam has been steaming for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let it sit for 20 minutes in the steamer. Let it rest on a plate at room temperature for another 10 minutes, so it is easier to handle. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Serve with ginger scallion sauce and rice. The chicken can be served at room temperature or cold.
Tips on how to make the perfect Chinese steamed chicken
- Use kitchen twine to lift the chicken out of the steamer – I just want to caveat this by saying I came up with my ties for the kitchen twine through trial and error. It is by no means the most efficient way to do it. I was thinking about how to lift the chicken out of the steamer without breaking too much of the skin, and came up with this method. I tie a piece of kitchen twine around the vertical height of the chicken, so I can lift it out like a package. It works perfectly!
- Cook rice with the steaming liquid – I wanted to infuse the chicken flavor into the rice, so I swapped out distilled water for the water we used to cook the chicken. It makes the rice taste amazing.
- How do I create a light yellow and green sauce – My first attempt at creating this ginger scallion sauce, it was very green. That’s because I used the whole green onion to make it, so in my next attempt, I only used the light green parts of 5 green onions to make the sauce. The light green parts are the parts at the bottom of the herb. This is purely aesthetic; you can use the dark green parts if you want to.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
Chinese Steamed Chicken with Ginger Scallion Sauce
- Pat dry the chicken. Rub salt on the whole chicken and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Make sure to get some salt in the cavity as well. Use more salt if needed.
- The next day, toast the coriander and fennel on the stove for 10-20 seconds.
- Add coriander, fennel, and the ginger to a small cheese cloth. Tie the ends together to make it into a small spice package. Stuff it into the cavity of the chicken.
- Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together to close the cavity. Use a second piece of twine to tie the legs to the tail. Finally, use one more piece of twine to tie around the length of the chicken (see picture above). The twine should go between the legs and wrap around the length of the chicken. Optional: You can use one more piece of twine to around the height of the chicken which will help you lift it out of the steamer.
- Prepare your steamer pot. Place a heat proof plate on your steamer attachment. Bring water to a boil. Add the chicken to the steamer. Let the chicken steam for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let the chicken sit for another 20 minutes.
- Carefully take out the chicken with tongs, and remove the spice package from the cavity. Pour the steaming liquid into a small bowl. This liquid can be used in future dishes or to cook the rice.
- Let it cool completely (~10 minutes).
- Once it is cool enough to handle, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Serve with rice and ginger scallion sauce. The chicken can be served at room temperature or cold.
Ginger Scallion Sauce
- Add ginger and green onions to a food processor and pulse until both are broken down. I used only the light colored parts of 5 green onions, so my ginger scallion oil will have a light green color. Dump the ginger and green onions into a small bowl.
- Heat oil over medium heat for ~1-2 minutes. Pour over ginger and green onions. Add salt and stir. Set aside.