Drunken Chicken
October 02nd, 2009 38 Comments

Drunken Chicken

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Shanghai Drunken Chicken Recipe


3 lbs chicken, dark meat preferably
2 Tbsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
0.5 oz. ginger, thinly sliced
4 – 6 green onion, white parts only, sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 C Shaoxing rice wine
2 tsp white sugar

Ice cubes and water


Mix the salt with the two peppers. Rub the chicken all over with the salt and pepper and let it sit for an hour.

Poaching Method:

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a Dutch oven or large pot, add the green onion bottoms and ginger. Add the chicken, make sure there is enough water to cover the chicken, and return to a boil. Lower the heat to a bare simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. If you’re using a whole chicken, when the water is simmering for 10 minutes, lift the chicken out of the water and make sure the stock in the cavity empties back into the pot. Do that 3 times for a whole chicken. For chicken pieces or leg quarters, gently stir the pot once or redistribute the leg quarters so they cook evenly. After 10 minutes, cover, turn off the heat, and allow the chicken to poach undisturbed until the water cools almost to room temperature.

Steaming Method:

Bring water to a boil in the steamer. Place the chicken in an even layer, scatter the green onion and ginger all over and steam over medium heat for 30 – 40 minutes or until the internal temperature near the bone reaches 165 – 170 degrees F. If the chicken pieces are larger, they will take longer to steam. If any of the pieces are touching make sure to redistribute them in the middle of cooking so they cook evenly.

Mix the ice cubes and water and shock the chicken in ice cold water for 2 minutes. If you poached the chicken, shock it after the chicken has cooled to room temperature. If you steamed the chicken, shock it immediately after steaming.

After cooking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, or score the chicken meat with a knife. Put the chicken pieces into a large container. Mix 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the chicken stock (the liquid you poached the chicken in or the liquid that comes out of the chicken after steaming) with the sugar and rice wine. Taste the marinade and add salt if needed. Pour it over the chicken pieces and let this sit in the fridge at least overnight before serving. Serve cold.

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38 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Oooh I love this dish. I don’t know why, it might not have an appealing aesthetic but there’s something so delicious about the chicken and the gelatin around it.

  2. Mrs Ergul says:

    what a treat?! Woooo I will like to give this a try!

  3. Cynthia says:

    This is bookmarked to try. The only thing is that I will have to make a small portion as no amount of convincing will win me Caribbean dining companions with this – people in these parts like to see their food coloured :)

  4. Su-yin says:

    This chicken looks AMAZING, I actually feel like I need to lean forward and lick my computer screen. Am bookmarking it for the next time I cook chicken rice. :)

  5. Syrie says:

    Looks very moist and succulent. It’s such a great way to cook chicken.

  6. Natashya says:

    I remember reading about this dish in The Last Chinese Chef. It looks great!

  7. I love drunken chicken the first time I tasted it. Looks really succulent & delicious. Great recipe & background information!

  8. This is quite easy and simple, think i am cooking this next week. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Mel @ says:

    This is one of my favourite Shanghaiese starters. Well done and gorgeous photos :)

  10. lydia says:

    thanks alot, i’ve been finding this method of how to steam a chicken. thank you!

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  14. Zoe says:

    Made this recipe for my radio show Lucky Cat as I was doing a special programme on the 7 singing stars of Shanghai from the 1930s/40s. Fanastic recipe, loved it, thanks to you and Amy for sharing it. Took a pic for my blog:

  15. Bob says:

    I am a bit confused. You have Shaoxing rice wine in your recipe, but I don’t see it is used in the cooking process!?

  16. kean onn says:

    :) Tip to poached chicken (breast especially) is to let it sit in low heat around 65 degree Celsius. I find if I bring the stock to a boil again, the chicken tend to be tough.

    For the best result, the chicken should be at room temperature before going in to the boiled water. And the most important thing of all is to be patient.

  17. Mel says:

    Can you have this dish hot with out reheating to avoid drying it out?

  18. Ruby says:

    Is there another substitue for rice wine?

  19. Andy Crofts says:

    Can’t believe I first made this some 30 years ago. I bought the ingredients from a fantastic – I really mean fantastic (you could spend an afternoon there, and not get bored) – Chinese wholesale shop in Birmingham, England. Even bought an expensevive-ish (£10?) chinese meat chopper to cut the chicken.
    My variation? I substituted the rice wine with sherry. That’s all, Must’ve made it at least 10 times for my guests, and it vanished before I could ask “anyone for more??”

    • matt says:

      You substituted the rice wine with sherry and you was at a Chinese wholesale shop? You should try it next time with the Shaoxing rice wine….. Unbelievable!!

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  21. natx says:

    this is crazy delicious. i cooked this twice over the period of 2 weeks. and my husband is still crazy over it, and he’s been raving about it so much, his friends want to try it too. i always have to cook extra for him to get his 2nd helping.
    thank u so much for posting this. really helps singaporeans living overseas get over their cravings for sg hawker food. hehe.
    i posted this recipe on my blog, and added a link to u..
    thanks once again.

  22. ealna2000 says:

    you have shaoxing wine and sugar in your recipe but i didn’t see you use it.
    when should i use it if i choose steam method?

  23. Catherine says:

    Whenever I steam or boil whole chicken, the skin always tears when I try to handle the whole chicken. Any tips on keeping the skin flawless?

    • Omar says:

      The trick is to simmer the chicken after the second boil. Keep the flame low so the bubbles rise up to the surfact slowly, almost one at a time. Secondly, be patient. Third, shock the chicken in ice water after it is cooked.

  24. This looks like something I would love to eat! Thanks for sharing! :)

  25. Allison says:

    oh woww.. my MIL made this for me last week and can’t wait to try this on my own!

  26. Ipohgirl says:

    Any ideas on what the leftover poaching liquid can be used for?

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  29. debbie says:

    Does the type of chicken make any difference? Chicken fresh and frozen?
    E.g. China Chicken, Malaysian, Australian etc…

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  31. joanna says:

    Hi would it taste as good If I buy chicken that is already chop up?

  32. Jonathan says:

    Using the poaching method, with a whole chicken, how long is the cooking time? It seems to be 10 minutes plus time to cool… is that right?

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