New Recipes

Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken (芽菜鸡)


Ipoh Bean Sprout Chicken (芽菜鸡)

Poached Chicken:

1 whole free range chicken
3 cloves garlic (halved)
2 green onion stalks (scallions) chopped into 10cm lengths
1 tbps black peppercorn
1 tbps goji berries (wolfberries)
1 bowl of ice water

Blanched Bean Sprouts:

250gram bean sprouts (root discarded preferably)

Sar Hor Fun (Rice Noodle soup):

1 packet of fresh rice noodle (microwavable type)
1 handful (100gram) of dried anchovies (江魚仔)
1 cube vegetable stock
1 tbsp black peppercorn
20 gram rock sugar
Pinch of salt to taste
(optional) 250gram of mixed pork bones (to add rich flavour)
(optional) 100gram of soy bean (to add sweetness)
Sesame oil and soy sauce to taste


Poached Chicken
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Make sure the pot is deep enough to submerge the entire chicken with the lid on.
2. Place garlic, scallions, peppercorns and goji berries into the cavity of the chicken.
3. When the water has boiled, remove the pot from the heat and place the chicken into the water, neck first. Put the lid on and leave the chicken to stand for 1 hour.
4. Then lift the chicken out of the water and set aside, as we need to boil the water again for its second bath.
5. Bring the pot of water to the boil again. Remove the pot from the heat and put the chicken back in for another 30 minutes bath. The chicken should be cooked by now but sometimes the bone can be still bloody when cut up. If you prefer it to be fully cooked, add an extra 30 minutes for the second bath but the texture of the chicken might be slightly different.
6. Act quickly, transfer the chicken to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Important! Do not discard the pot of water bath! It is now a perfect pot of chicken stock ready to be used for the noodle soup later.
7. Once the chicken has cool down, discard all the mixture in the cavity. Rub sesame oil and soy sauce all over the chicken and it is ready to be cut up. Garnish with chopped red chillies and scallions, and a good sprinkle of white pepper powder.

Sar Hor Fun
1. Place the pot of water that has been used to poached the chicken back to the heat.
2. Add dried anchovies, peppercorns, rock sugar, and vege stock into the pot and bring to boil.
3. Turn on high heat, and reduce the broth by half then the soup is ready. (You don’t have to discard the ingredient we just put in. Just turn the heat down to medium or low, the longer it boils, the richer flavor it gets)
4. Bring a different pot of water to boil. We will use this to cook our rice noodle.
5. Place the fresh rice noodle in microwave for 10 – 15 seconds, now it should be soft and easily to separate apart.
6. Fill a wire skimming ladle with rice noodle, then dip it inside the boiling water for no more than 30 seconds.
7. Take the ladle out of the boiling water, your noodle is now cooked. Drain then put rice noodle in a bowl, ladle the hot broth over the rice noodle. Garnish with chopped red chillies, scallions and coriander.

Blanched bean sprouts
(This should always be the last process as we need to keep the bean sprouts nice and crunchy.)

1. Place the bean sprouts in a wire skimming ladle and dip it inside the hot broth (NOT the boiling water for rice noodle) no more than 15 seconds.
2. Drain and serve on a plate.
3. Drizzle a good dash sesame oil and soy sauce all over.
4. Garnish with chopped red chillies and scallions, and a good sprinkle of white pepper powder.

For condiments, chopped hot green chilli padis and soy sauce on a saucer as a dip for the chicken.

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24 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Ipoh bean sprouts are very good, short and very crunchy. The bean sprouts in the US is too long and the texture is not great. I heard that now bean sprouts are added some chemicals so they are short and crunchy, too. Your Ipoh bean sprout chicken and hor fun looks so yummy.

  2. This looks so simple to make and yet the combination of flavours and textures seem like they’d be absolutely sublime!

    This is one for the to-try list :)

  3. Jay

    Is it traditional to put the chili padis on top of the dishes? Or was it done to add color to the photograph? I’m not from Ipoh, but did eat the Ipoh style chicken and beansprout at a restaurant on Jalan Gasing in PJ almost 20yrs ago. Don’t recall having the chili padis served right on top of the dishes. Usually on the side with soy sauce.

    Anyway, another method of boiling the chicken which I’ve used for 15 years now can save some time. For those interested, here’s what I do.

    Bring pot of water to boil (I usually add salt and pieces of ginger) and drop the chicken in (enough water to completely cover the chicken).

    Now, bring the water back to boil again, cover and remove from heat immediately.

    Let it “cook” in the pot for a little over an hour (for a 2.5lb chicken for example).

    Remove from pot and drain the chicken (you can hang it or just prop it up). Brush on some sesame oil.

    It won’t be bloody even in the thigh area. I usually use Amish chicken in the US. I haven’t tried the author’s method, but I would imagine if you put the chicken in with the pot off the heat, the water temperature would have dropped significantly, thus requiring you to do a second boil for 1/2hr to properly cook the chicken.

    • hey Jay, they are not chilli padis, they are just normal red chillies. It is a common garnish, even in Ipoh. See picture here of that dish from the popular restaurant in Ipoh :

      the chilli padis with soy sauce condiment on the side usually is green chillies and not red.

      I’ve tried your method once, but I found the chicken is overcook with it in the water and then boil again. If remove from heat the flesh will be a lot more juicy and tender in my opinion. But yes, it does take longer time.

      • Jay

        Thanks for clarifying. It has been so long that I just refer to them as chilli padis since the ones sold in my local grocery stores label them as “Thai Hot Peppers” and they could be small like M’sian chilli padis, or long like the red/green chilli.

        Anyway, it’s interesting to see them used as a garnish on soup in Ipoh. I would garnish them say on mee goreng or wuu tao kou (yam cake), but never on soup.

        I might give your boiling method a try, though the possibility of bloody chicken (thigh) will bring in the health inspector faster than you can say “yum seng” :) or have my wife running for the hills.

    • Rebecca

      Hi Jay,
      The method taught by Bee is the best way so that the chicken will not over cooked and nice and the skin will be crunchy. That is the Cantonese method to boil a chicken !! She is smart to ask readers to remove the pot from the stove as in overseas mostly use the electric stoves as the heat will last at least 15 mins. I will add in some fried garlic oil and some Fish sauce to the noodle soup. fish sauce is the secret of most of the hawkers’ food especially the Char Koay Teow !! It simple to fry it in the M’wave !! I mix 2 spoons of chopped garlic and stir in oil to over it, m’wave for 1 min, stir and continue another 1 min but you have to be there and keep an eye on it as it will burn very fast. Once you see a spot is brown in the center of the bowl, stir and m’wave. Once it is slightly golden, remove as it will continue to cook in the HOT,HOT oil !!

  4. Favbabe

    I always have problem with cooking pak cham kai and now I know I undercook my chicken. The bloody sight from cutting the chicken is horrifying. I will try your method and hopefully this time the chicken is well cooked and the moisture is retained! Is the broth still as tasty from the 2nd bath?

  5. I have tried this dish in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I have been told it was the speciality and people love it. I find it very plain and lack of taste, to me that’s a basic boiled chicken with boiled beans sprouts and boiled rice noodles (tasteless by definition)….nothing special after all! So I didn’t undertand the fuss around that dish. Is it because I’m French?!

    • Jay

      Admin – if you are reading this, can you delete my first reply. Lots of typos :(

      I think the method of cooking is similar to the sous-vide method in French cooking. The uniqueness comes from a perfectly cooked whole chicken that is very moist and the chicken skin actually tastes pretty good when cooked in this manner.

      Also, with the combination of the chicken rice (though there’s so many varieties from plain yellowish white to darkish yellow brown) and the chilli paste that accompanies it. Again, the chilli paste/sauce has so many varieties depending on where you go. The dish is special in the sense it is so simple, but yet so savory at the same time.

  6. NYMY

    I had to agree with Mr Bidendum, I too found this dish to be somewhat plain in tasting. I prefer normal Chicken rice.

  7. If cooked just right, its far from bland and tasteless. Texture should be smooth and succulent, with all the essential juices sealed within the chicken. Then dipped into a mixture of soy, ginger and garlic, the taste is pure perfection!

  8. Yea, sometimes home made is better from what you can buy from outside. I just had ate steam chicken at the New Ipoh Chicken Rice Restaurant at Mid Valley last week. The outlet had just opened after renovation to the outlet. Their food is salty. I think too much MSG. Then price also increased, and the food portion became smaller compared to before renovation.


    I would like to know if somebody can help me to source some company in Ipoh can provide me the fresh Ipoh bean sprouts and ship to Hong Kong everyday.
    Thank you very much.
    Sidney Tong

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