Saturday, October 9, 2010

Five-Spice-Rubbed Roast Chicken with Poached Bok Choy

Five-spice powder is an essential item in most Chinese kitchens. It is used to marinade meats like pork, duck and chicken. The typical ingredients found in five-spice powder are grounded star anise, cinnamon, fennel, Szechuan peppercorns and cloves. These ingredients are supposed to represent the flavors of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent.

For this dish, marinate a whole chicken with regular soy sauce, sweet soy sauce and five-spice powder for about 4 hours. Before roasting, add slices of fresh garlic, ginger and onions into the chicken's cavity. When ready, roast the chicken at 400F for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how heavy the bird is), covering the bird in aluminium foil, so as to not let the delicious au jus that pools at the bottom of the roasting tray evaporate from the direct heat.

When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let it sit for a minute or two. Pour the au jus into a separate pot, together with the cooked garlic and onions. Remove the ginger slices. Turn on the broiler in your oven and put the chicken back in to brown the skin. This should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Now let's talk about preparing the bok choy. While you wait for the chicken to be done, get a pot of salted water going on the stove. Clean the bok choy by removing about 1-2 inches of the bottom and washing each individual leaf to remove any grit. Blanch the bok choy in the boiling water for less than 2 minutes or until tender. Remove and set aside.

Chop a few cloves of garlic and several slices of ginger into fine pieces. Get a small pan hot and add about 1/2 cup of sesame oil. Be careful when you do this because sesame oil smokes at a lower temperature than regular vegetable oil. So, temper the heat to about medium flame. Cook the chopped ginger and garlic in the oil until just brown. Remove from the heat immediately.

To serve the bok choy, spoon some of the sesame oil, together with the cooked ginger and garlic onto the vegetable and drizzle with soy sauce. And you are done!

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