White cut chicken is so very close to my heart.
When I grew up in the early 70s in Southern China, we lived simply on limited resources. Earning a first prize in school meant a lot to me, as the prize was typically a pencil with a rubber at the end, a real luxury. I would jump for joy if I received a prize of a few new exercise books as they were frequently out of stock at the shops.
My father was a university graduate and a mechanical engineer. The year that I was born, he was ‘redistributed’ to work at a factory 150km away from home. Those days, 150km means a 5 hours journey on a train. My father’s monthly salary was about $60 yuan (approx USD10 based on today’s exchange rate). He kept $30 yuan for himself and sent the rest to us. My mother was a factory hand whose monthly salary was $37 yuan (approx USD6 based on today’s exchange rate). Once a year, our Singapore uncle sent us a little money. My mother would buy some fabric, sew a new piece of clothing for me on my grandmother’s old sewing machine. Our Singapore uncle was very kind to us – he had a large family to support and he was not well off himself.
At the end of each Chinese Luna year, my father was entitled to a 10-day holiday to spend Chinese New Year with the family. As a special treat for the New Year’s Eve family dinner, my father always brought home a farm chicken which cost around $10 yuan. He had to save up for months to buy the chicken. My grandmother carefully slaughtered and poached the chicken, then served it at the Chinese New Year Eve dinner. The chicken was shared among the whole family – grandmother, uncles, aunties and us.
There were only a few pieces for each of us. Grandmother was entitled to the chicken’s bottom, a delicacy. I was the first grandchild born in the house and was entitled to one of the wings – another delicacy. How delicious it was, our once a year white cut chicken feast.
Over the years in Australia I had many white cut chicken dishes – some were delicious, some were cooked without care. I started cooking my own version of the boneless white cut chicken, and my friends always enjoyed the dish.
This recipe is a modern fusion of Chinese & Vietnamese – gently poached juicy tender chicken breast fillet on a bed of fresh Vietnamese style slaw.
Recipe is as follows:
- 1 single chicken breast
- 1 inch ginger, crushed
- 2 stalk shallot, white part only, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- approx 75gm wombok, thinly sliced, discard the very thick white part
- 25g mung bean vermicelli, socked in hot water for 15 minutes; roughly cut with a pair of scissors (run the scissor across for 4-5 times); drain off excess water
- 20g of coriander, roughly chopped
- 5g loose mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp fried shallot, to garnish (optional)
- 1 tbsp peanuts, lightly toasted in a frying pan, roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 small carrot, remove skin, julienne
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 fresh chili, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt, ginger, shallot stalk, chicken breast, bring to a gentle boil; remove the pot from the stove; close the lid of the pot; leave covered for approx 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked. The meat should be very tender and aromatic.
- Take the meat out of the water & cut into serving size.
- Mix vinegar and sugar with warm water until fully dissolved. Pour over the carrot, let the carrot marinate in the mixture for 30 minutes; stir occasionally. After 30 minutes, drain off excess liquid.
- Mix all ingredients until sugar fully dissolved; taste & adjust the quantity of ingredients to your liking (I like it sweet and hot, so I tend to add extra sugar and chili).
- Place wombok in a large bowl; pour in half of the sauce, toss; add pickle carrot & mung bean vermicelli, toss; add coriander and mint, toss. Place on a serving plate.
- Place chicken on top of the salad; drizzle with the remaining sauce; garnish with fried shallot and peanuts.