Do I Make ... ?
| Toisan Chicken is a 'boy' dish comprising
of a whole chicken chopped into 4 main pieces, and eaten
with your hands. It is a favourite in Toisan (Tai Shan
City - Mandarin spelling), and very popular in Canton
I am publishing this recipe because it is not known
outside of this region of China. It originates in Toisan
City (Cantonese) which may also be known as Tai Shan
City (Mandarin 台山), or as Toy Cern City (Toisanwah).
I will stick with the Cantonese version, and you can
interpolate as necessary.
||Mama, Moh Dohr Soi Heng, Toisan, Canton,
|Mama is Siu Ying's Mother - so Jonno's
Mother in Law. She is an excellent country chef
with a flair for cooking poultry.
To get this dish right, you need to cook it
for a very, very long time. Allow all day to do this
- but fortunately, the cooking process needs no attention,
so you only need to participate for preparation and
|Let's get started:-
Mama's Toisan Chicken
• 1 Fresh hen
• A lot of salt
Jam kettle or pot of similar size
Double lidded ceramic pot
Chinese portable Stove
First - let's get your mind right for cooking
Maybe you know the very best Turkey, Goose, or
Welsh Cockerel when cooked for Thanksgiving or
Christmas, is an epic; and best cooked on very
low heat overnight. This dish is exactly the same
in this respect, but traditional Cantonese of
course. It would probably only be cooked in this
way for Chinese New Year, weddings, or similar
= Very special occasions.
The quick version must be cooked for at least
2-hours on a higher heat - but the results are
not in the same league of course. Let's learn
it properly to begin with, and then you can reduce
cooking time at your pleasure.
|Prepare the Chicken:
1. Buy a live fattened chicken, and kill
it by slitting its neck; saving the blood for
2. Plunge the
bird into a gallon of boiling hot water and leave
to soak for a few minutes.
the hen and first remove all the outer skin from
the feet, etc. Then rip out the feathers, which
are by now easy to pull out. This should take
4. Slit the bird's
underside and remove everything inside.
Chinese will keep all the main internals, including:
Heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, egg sacks, and intestines.
You do not have to do this.
what is left thoroughly and rub salt into it very
off: The neck with head attached where it joins
the body, and the chickens' feet around knee height.
You should have 4-pieces only.
a. In China
you can buy one immediately prepared for you from
any wet market.
b. In Uk
and the West, interpolate as best you can. If
your town still has a fishmonger, then they will
probably be able to do this for you to order -
otherwise you only have supermarkets nowadays,
so buy an organically raised one with the gizzard.
Place a chinese rice bowl upside down
in the bottom of the double-lidded ceramic container.
Place the chicken on top of this with its back
uppermost. Add the chickens feet and neck as best
as you can fit them in. Put both lids on the container.
Nothing else is normally added, but I have seen
this made by adding a few mushrooms, garlic, and
a little fresh ginger.
the large jam-kettle and put a small piece of
cloth in the bottom; this is simply to protect
the base of the ceramic pot from direct heat.
Put the ceramic pot containing chicken on top,
and add a couple of inches of water. Place the
outer lid on the jam kettle, and place on a low
9. The ideal heat
is a low simmer, and this may take a while to
achieve. You want it to settle so that the water
is just bubbling, but not doing too much else.
10. Once simmering nicely, the
minimum time is 2-hours, but use a more vigorous
simmer if using this time-frame. Ideally use the
very low simmer and cook for around 6-hours or
so. Overnight is also OK. Alternatively, you can
cook this is two goes, setting it all up and giving
it a couple of hours one day, then returning to
finish cooking the next.
is important to check the simmer every hour or
so, and this you learn from experience. You do
not want all the water to evaporate, so may need
to top up the water levels in the outer jam kettle
from time to time - best to use boiling water
from a kettle for this.If your seals are good,
then very little water if any will need adding.
|Click picture below
More pictures next time this dish is made traditionally
The easiest way to tell if this dish
is cooked properly is to pick up the chicken,
and if it tries to fall apart in your hands, then
it is cooked. Therefore you need to exercise care
during removal from the ceramic pot.
Restaurants will normally serve this
as 8 pieces: Head and neck, two feet, carcass;
and four portions - two each of wing and leg.
At home the carcass is normally chopped into four
straight the way through, or sometimes the main
bird remains intact.
this on a large oval serving platter and arrange
15. Pries the upturned
Chinese bowl from the base of the pot, and be
amazed that it is full of chicken fat. Put this
liquid into small bowls and add to the table -
this is used as a dip, or sometimes a soup. You
will undoubtedly prefer the dip version. If you
added anything else (Such as mushrooms, garlic
or ginger), then apportion these into the bowls
and take to table.
dish is best eaten as large chunks with your fingers.
This is one of the few occasional when Chinese
do not use chopsticks, and prefer plastic hand
gloves. If you do not have any, then eating with
your fingers is fine - just remember to give everybody
tissues before they begin, and supply a bowl of
lemon water for washing fingers at the table.
Hot lemon scented hand towels are also a very
Expats will find all the cooking paraphernalia
readily available at any larger wet market in
This information is as supplied by ourselves, and ably
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