This recipe is a different interpretion of the Hainan chicken we usually make, but it is really good! The gentle cooking technique yields juicy, flavorful chicken. We actually like the texture that the cabbage adds and we appreciate how the poaching broth is repurposed for the sauce and rice. Leftovers are great at room temp the next day.
  cilantro1 bunch
 scallions6 stalks
trimmed and halved crosswise
  water4 1/2 qt
 hon mirin2 cups
or dry sherry, see notes
 ginger4 inches
cut into 4 pieces and smashed
 kosher salt3 tbsp
 whole chicken4 lbs
giblets discarded
 poaching broth 1/4 cup
 scallions4 stalks
thinly sliced on the bias
 soy sauce3 tbsp
 avocado oil2 tbsp
or other neutral oil such as grapeseed
 ginger4 tsp
 rice vinegar1 tbsp
 toasted sesame oil1 tbsp
 white sugar 1/2 tsp
 cooked rice
 napa cabbage 1/2 lb
about half of a small head, thinly sliced to yield 4 cups
chicken and rice
Pull the chicken out of the fridge and let it come up to room temp while kicking off the recipe.
Cut the cilantro bunch in half cross-wise. Bundle up the cilantro stems and scallions together with kitchen twine. Chop 1/2 cup of the cilantro leaves.
In a large pot, add the cilantro/scallions bundle along with the half of the water, mirin, ginger, and salt. Bring to a boil over night heat.
Use tongs to gently lower the chicken, breast side up, into the hot broth. Add the rest of the water or as much water as possible without overflowing. If needed, weigh the chicken down with a ramekin to keep it fully submerged.
Bring the broth to a boil again, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed.
Flip the chicken breast side down then simmer for another 10 minutes.
Transfer the pot away from the heat and steep the chicken for 30 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a large low bowl and rest for 15 minutes.
Kick off the rice cooker. Instead of water, use the poaching liquid.
dressing and plating
For the dressing, combine the poaching broth, scallions, soy sauce, avocado oil, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.
Carve the chicken. Separate the entire breast and cut it crosswise into slices.
Use a shallow bowl for each serving. Add a bed of rice and a generous layer of cabbage. Top with chicken, dressing, and chopped cilantro. Serve with a small teacup of hot poaching liquid on the side for sipping in between bites.

Hon mirin is not as sweet as aji mirin. If using sherry, use a quality value-priced sherry. Avoid cooking sherry since it contains additional sodium.

If you freeze the leftover poaching broth, you don't have to wait until step #9 to kick off the rice cooker the next time you make this recipe. You can start the rice right away and the chicken and rice should finish closer to the same time.


adapted from Milk Street magazine