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Sake-steamed Whole Chicken

Friday, February 19, 2010

Salt a whole chicken.

Find a big pot (a Le Creuset French oven works perfectly) and stick a steaming basket inside (unscrew and remove the post in the center).

Pour a mixture of water and sake in a 1:1 ratio into the pot until it reaches the top of the steamer basket.

Position the chicken on the steamer and turn on the heat. Cook until the chicken is done, (about 45 minutes or so).
You can test for doneness by making a cut between the thigh and the breast and peeking inside. If the juices run clear and the meat by the bone is no longer red, you’re, as they say, golden.

While the chicken is steaming, grate some daikon to make daikon oroshi (grated daikon).

Also, pour ponzu sauce into individual serving bowls.

Okay, now, very important: When the chicken is ready, allow it to cool to room temperature or so inside the pot. This way it will retain its succulence. If you pull it out of the pot and cut it up immediately, you’ll end up with dry chicken. Patience is key. When you’re ready to eat, add some daikon oroshi to the ponzu to give it body, and dip pieces of the chicken into the sauce. What you’ll discover is that the steaming sake tenderized the chicken while it cooked, so it turns out incredibly moist and flavorful. Finally, you can reduce the steaming liquid down to a sauce and pour over the chicken if you’d like (more French than Japanese, but, hey).

This chicken, leftover and out of the fridge, is also fantastic.

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