Salt is an essential seasoning when comes to cooking. Once upon of time when refrigerator was yet to be invented by human, our ancestor relied on salt to preserve meat. Those preserved meat was also known as cured meat which is commonly consume by us now days with the likes of bacon, Chinese sausage, salami, and etcetera. Besides from curing meat, salt is also quite commonly used in baking freshly caught fish or chicken in certain area. Today we are sharing the recipe of a famous Chinese Hakka dish known as salt baked chicken (鹽焗雞) to you.
This recipe is highly inspired by my mother in law who makes one of the best salt baked chicken. Well technically, it should not be named as salt baked chicken as her version of chicken was actually steamed in a steamer instead of baked. Of course, the taste is similar to any regular salt baked chicken.
Never have I actually seen an actual salt baked chicken being baked in the traditional method. I believe it is not too common around here as they are mostly steamed in a steamer. Especially those that being serves at hawker center. I guess it is much easier and hassle free this way? However, since we are making an actual salt baked chicken, we might as well do it right!
First is the marinating. Salt, Dang Gui (female ginseng as translated by google. I wonder?), some wine, white pepper, and a bit of ginger would be used. The chicken was then let to sit in the fridge for a day before baking. After that, the marinated chicken was then wrapped tight with a baking paper, and aluminum foil. Finally, it is baked in a pile of salt for the desire time and we are done. Simple right?
After tested both steamed version and salt baked version I would say, the salt baked version is much juicier in compare. Besides, when we were breaking out the salt cocoon and opening up the wrapper, the aromatic smell from the chicken just burst out and fill up the entire room. We believe the salt cocoon prevented the aroma from escaping and the juice from evaporating which enhanced the taste of the chicken.
It is a simple recipe that we would highly recommend anyone to try. Our recipe is in a smaller portion rather than a whole bird, which is very ideal for a person or two. It goes well with a bowl of steamed rice too. So give it a try.
Salt Baked Chicken
- Baking tray
- Baking paper
- Aluminum foil
- 1/4 Chicken (thigh and drumstick portion is preferable)
- 2 tsp Sake (Shaoxing wine would also do)
- 10 g Dang Gui (finely grated)
- 1/2 tsp Coarse salt
- Dash of White pepper
- A slice of Ginger (about 2mm thick slice of ginger)
- 500-1000 g Coarse Salt
- Rinse 1/4 of chicken under tap water and pat it dry with kitchen towel.
- Grate the dang gui with a cheese grater. Fine powder form is preferable.
- Rub the chicken with sake, dang gui powder, white pepper, and coarse salt. Let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
- The next day, take it out from the fridge and let it rest in room temperature for a while before baking.
- Preheat the oven at 200 degree C.
- Cut a baking paper which is enough to wrap the chicken, place a slice of ginger on it and follow by the chicken. Wrap it tight.
- Do a second wrapping with aluminum foil this time.
- Take a baking tray, cover the bottom with salt. About 2 centimeter thick. Place the wrapped chicken on top.
- Cover it with enough salt.
- Put it in oven, bake it in 200 degree C for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, switch off the heat and let is sit inside the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Bring it out from the oven, dismantle the salt cocoon and cut open the wrapper. Enjoy your salt baked chicken~