Sliced Boiled Chicken

Grouped in the same niche as Beijing’s popular roast duck, sliced boiled chicken enjoys a good reputation on the Shanghai Bund.

First seen in the State of Chu in the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), sliced boiled chicken, a broiler stewed in a marinade, was an imperial court specialty. After generations of refinements to the recipe, the dish gained popularity among the general public and branched into two forms: red braised chicken and white boiled chicken.

Sliced boiled chicken used the simplest of culinary techniques to keep its original flavor. No seasoning was added. The chicken was simply boiled, plated up, and dressed with dipping sauce. A special cooking method that cooled the boiled chicken in cold water helped retain its flavor and luster, and also crispened its skin.

The dish became famous in Shanghai’s Pudong District during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), initially among village inns whose keepers made this simple dish to satisfy all sorts of guests from far and wide. Chickens were caught and cooked to order. Guests would sit at wooden tables and enjoy a plate of tender, crisp chicken washed down with a cup of homemade glutinous rice wine.

When Shanghai opened its ports to the outside world, sliced boiled chicken became popular with urban citizens, and really took off in the 1940s. Its popularity is on account of its distinctive flavor: The special “Three Yellow Chicken,” with yellow feet, skin, and beak, is crisp and savory. The dipping sauce is also a unique recipe, a blend of soy sauce, ginger, and spring onions. It not only maintains the tenderness of the chicken and the golden, glossy color, but also enhances its flavor and freshness.


To Cook:

1. Rinse a whole chicken and stuff with chopped scallions and sliced ginger.

2. Marinate in a stockpot with water, more chopped scallions, sliced ginger, and cooking wine.

3. When the water boils, reduce the heat.

4. Simmer the chicken, turning regularly to keep the water moving inside. This ensures it cooks at the same temperature, inside and out.

5. Turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for 15 minutes. Use a skewer or chopstick to check the meat juices run clear and remove from the pot.

6. Submerge the chicken in a tub of ice water for 20 to 30 minutes.

7. Pat dry with some kitchen paper and brush sesame oil (or cooked peanut oil) on the skin. Slice and plate up.

8. Serve with condiments such as scallion oil, light soy sauce, homemade hot bean paste, fermented soya bean, and sesame oil.