Poaching or cooking in liquid is one of the great arts of Chinese cooking. There are many different poaching styles and once you’ve mastered them you will not believe the different textures and flavours you can tempt out of poultry, meat and fish. Many of the poaching liquids can be kept and reused or make a luxurious sauce.
Remove all visible fat from the chicken and wipe out the cavity with paper towels. In a pot just big enough to hold the chicken, bring all the ingredients except the chicken to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Submerge the chicken in the stock, breast side down and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and cook a strong simmer for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken and let it to simmer for another 3 minutes. Cover the pot from the heat. Let the chicken cool in the stock.
Once the stock has cooled, remove the chicken. The master stock should then be strained, boil, cooled and refrigerated for future use. As the stock ages its flavor will intensify. Add water if necessary to dilute the stock. The chicken is now ready to be used in a salad, or chopped up Chinese-style and reformed on a plate. Hang chicken at room temperature to dry if you intend to fry it.
Master stock is a sauce in which the ingredient is first cooked and allowed to cool down. This allows the flavour to start permeating the skin, but not to reach deep into the flesh; the result is a silky texture and meat with just a hint of flavour. In China some master stock are generations old by virtue of the fact that the old base is boiled and added to the next use.
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