White Cut Chicken and Scallion-Ginger Sauce

Chinese white cut chicken (bái qie ji) is a classic New Year's dish and an everyday comfort item for most Chinese home cooks. It's just a poached chicken served with a scallion-ginger sauce. While it may seem plain and simple, it takes some practice to master the cooking method and produce a juicy and flavorful chicken.

Hungry Bear turned to a recipe from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen for directions. The end result was a white cut chicken that was moist and delicious. I loved dipping the chicken into the scallion-ginger sauce and spooning the sauce over steamed rice. Who knew a poached chicken could be so good!?!

Ginger and Scallions

Chinese White Cut Chicken (Bái Qie Ji) Recipe


SND Note: Traditionally, the chicken is cut Chinese style with the meat on the bone.

Ingredients
  • 4-5 pound broiler-fryer chicken
  • 5 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 ounce fresh ginger (thumb-sized piece for poaching)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4 quarts ice water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons green scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, finely shredded
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
  1. Remove any excess fat from the chicken. Rub chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt, then rinse under cold water and place onto a rack to drain.
  2. In a large stock pot, bring about 3 quarts water, ginger, garlic and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly add the chicken, breast-side up. Add more boiling water if necessary to cover the chicken completely. Return water to a boil and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, removing any scum on the surface. Cover pot, turn off heat and let the chicken sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover the pot and return to a boil for 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove from pot and place the chicken in a colander in the sink. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of thigh. Thermometer should read 170°F. (Return to pot and simmer for a few more minutes if internal temperature is under 170°F.) Slowly pour ice water over the chicken in the colander. Transfer chicken to cutting board and rub it with sesame oil. Allow chicken to cool before chopping the chicken with a meat cleaver. Reserve chicken broth for future use.
  4. Place scallions, ginger and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a small heatproof bowl. In a small skillet or saucepan, heat vegetable oil over high heat until very hot, but not smoking. Carefully, pour the oil over scallion mixture. The oil will make a crackling sound and may splatter when it hits the scallion mixture. Serve the chicken warm or room temperature with scallion-ginger sauce.

Makes 4-6 servings

[Adapted from The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen]


Update August 13, 2008: The first picture in this post won the DMBLGIT July 2008 aesthetics category! We are very psyched and honored to receive the recognition.

July 2008 DMBLGIT Aesthetics Winner

[tags]chinese, chicken, ginger, green onions, scallions, easy[/tags]

52 Comments on “Chinese White Cut Chicken (Bái Qie Ji)”

  1. yum-oh! great recipe, well documented… I am drooling over the thought of this Hainan-style chicken… thanks for the reminder, perfect winter dish!

  2. Hi, I came across your blog the other day, and I’m thoroughly impressed. The pictures are beautiful, and I’ll definitely be trying some of your recipes soon. Keep up the good work!

  3. Judy said:

    Very nice! I haven’t had this kind of chicken in many years. I think my next cookbook purchase will have to be the Grace Young book. That way I can learn how to replicate some of the dishes I remember eating as a child.

  4. Lan said:

    this reminds me of Com Ga. this looks delish but i’m now i thinking i might have to make me some mama style com ga this weekend, complete with rice, ginger chilli nuoc mam, cucumber-onions in vinegar and rau ram. i’ll be driving my pham-ily crazy with the picture taking and hopefully one will be good enough to make it to foodgawker. (GREAT JOB with that site, btw!)

  5. A classic! And yes, how can something so simple be so good? =)

    Alternatively, we steam the chicken instead of poaching it. Everybody likes spooning the chicken juices over the rice.

    That green onion-ginger sauce *makes* the dish! I never knew you were supposed to heat the oil and pour it over the ingredients. I just made it up and start the oil cold and add grated ginger (to infuse it). Then salt and green onion at the end of the process.

  6. i also add chopped chilies to my ginger scallion sauce. we’re currently testing this recipe for the book…and i decided to nix the idea of poaching a whole chicken. I think this scares the bejeebers out of most people…so we’re poaching chicken breasts instead.

  7. Kalyn said:

    This sounds like a great recipe! I once took Chinese cooking from a visiting professor from China and learned to whack through those chicken bones!

  8. I’ve forgotten why you boil, cool, boil, cool…. I remember reading the explanation somewhere. Can you refresh my memory on that?

  9. Y said:

    Looove chicken cooked this way (my favourite bit is usually the dipping sauce, and lots of it!), and love the photos :)

  10. Becky said:

    my father used to make this pretty often, but doesn’t anymore. you’ve made me miss it! thanks for the recipe.

  11. hungry bear said:

    lydia, i think the point behind the method is to only cook the chicken until it is just done, before it leaks any juices or flavor. just boiling it is too harsh and risks overcooking. essentially, low and slow to get a juicy bird.

  12. Nate said:

    Very nicely done!

    The ginger-scallion sauce makes the dish, to be sure. If you use a free range bird, it won’t be as bland as a CAFO fryer. Might be a little tougher, though.

  13. I adore this simple, homey comforting kind of dish in the same way I loved my mother’s Jewish-style chicken in the pot complete with extra chicken feet . I can’t wait to try the scallion sauce.

  14. Great photos! Looks tasty. very very tasty.

  15. crabbycook said:

    Hey Chuck, great looking recipe. Good to have you back posting, I was concerned that foodgawker was eating up all your time.

  16. Kevin said:

    This sounds like a simple and tasty way to cook chicken.

  17. WAH, you know Mandarin?

  18. Sonya said:

    Is there an easy way to print the recipe? I have to make this recipe! I also have to eat it!

    Thanks.

  19. Jen Yu said:

    How utterly gorgeous! I can taste it right now :) I know the traditional way to serve it is with the bone, but I always *hated* the bits of bone in the chicken… Just a curiosity (call me stupid or unobservant – it’s all accurate), is Hungry Bear Chinese or are you guys just really masterful with an innate sense of Chinese cooking? Okay, I’m going to try and be better about commenting. I’ve been derailed from my normal web noodlings lately, but hopefully the side-effects are going awaaaaaay… xxoo

  20. Chuck said:

    Thanks everyone for the compliments!

    Rasa Malaysia, me and Mandarin… um, no. That would be Hungry Bear’s native tongue. I’m sticking to my Viet-lish.

    Sonja, if you select print preview in your browser, you’ll see the post content on the first page and the recipe on the second page without any pictures. Hopefully that will work for you.

    Jen, thanks! Hungry Bear is a Chinese bear. I think that makes her a panda bear. ;-)

  21. C said:

    Nice blog – you take great food pictures and I like all the different recipes you offer. I’ll be visiting often!

  22. Christine said:

    Hi Chuck – Great recipe here. A whole chicken cooked this way is always so nice. I know the bones make it a bit cumbersome to eat with but the flavor you get from them is incomparable. Spring onions are all over the market here in Ann Arbor and this would be a great way to use them.

    p.s. thanks for the b-day wishes :) Also, kudos on FoodGawker – it’s awesome!

  23. Sorina said:

    I like the sound and look of this. I shall mark this on my to do list.

  24. I find that simple recipes are often the hardest to get just right. The ginger dipping sauce sounds really tasty in this recipe, I think I might have to try it at home!

  25. yoko said:

    I made this last night– I didn’t have a proper cleaver, unfortunately, so I managed to make a mess cutting the meat from the bone with a kitchen knife. But the chicken was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was excellent. I’m going to make chicken soup from the broth tonight. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  26. inga said:

    I love your website! Keep the recipes coming! One of these days, I’ll get brave enough to try one of them! :-)

  27. canarygirl said:

    Looks delicious! Ginger + scallions is one of those perfect combos, dipping chicken in it? Yum!

  28. Sorina said:

    Hi I am new to your blog and I just wanted to say how much I’m loving it

  29. Donald said:

    Nice recipe! Do you totally remove the meat or just segment the bird?

  30. Heather said:

    My husband and I had this at Good Taste Noodle House a week ago (it was served over noodles). I loved it more than the duck and wonton I ordered. :)

  31. Andrea said:

    Congrats on winning the Edibility award for your photo! It is fantastic!

  32. Heather said:

    We have just reeled away from the table, having eaten way too much of this delicious recipe!
    I did a whole bird and really its not that scary.
    Have hidden the leftovers for tomorrow, and plan to make soup from the stock. I used the hot stock to cook some rice which was extra tasty. Thanks for giving us the recipe for a dish we first enjoyed 25 years ago and have been wanting a recipe for ever since.

  33. Phil said:

    This was one of my favorite dishes when I was growing up. When I make this, I also make a second dipping sauce from soy sauce, ginger and scallions.

  34. axux said:

    i order this alot in restos,
    i made the sauce yesterday, will try the entire recipe
    on sunday, i don’t have a meat thermometer though

  35. A truly tasty dish I can tell! I love that it has ginger and scallions I’m going to try this recipe real soon!

  36. Abby said:

    I was trying to look for some recipes for white chicken, when I got into your website, read the recipe, seems so easy to make so I decided to use it for my 3 pcs. of quarter chicken legs since that’s the only part I have for the moment and it turned out so good. I will try on the other recipes later on.

  37. huiray said:

    Very similar recipe to Hainan Chicken! Gooood stuff.

    I’m surprised no-one here discusses using the chicken stock so obtained. Traditionally, the poaching or boiling stock (especially when well flavored or stock that has been used to cook several chickens, as in a restaurant serving this dish) is served as an accompanying soup, with some fresh chopped scallions and coriander scattered in.

    I also make a variant of this by SIMMERING the whole chicken (no, it doesn’t get dried out, not really) for 10 min per pound + 10 min in just enough water to cover, salted well and with LOTS of smashed ginger. This method does not work well for small chickens, chicken pieces, or even halved or quartered chickens – you need a fair-sized whole chicken. (Free-range chickens are dicey – usually not enough fat, or a little too ‘muscley’) For a 4-5 lb whole chicken (fat removed only if there really is a large excess), skin on, I might use 2 large lobes of ginger (3-4 fat inches length) cut up into pieces then smashed with a large cleaver before adding to the water. Do NOT simmer longer than the allotted time. Remove from stock promptly, let cool (or dunk in ice water), oil can be rubbed onto the skin if desired. The stock is used to make boiled rice. The remaining stock is reheated and chopped veggies added (collards, kale, similar stuff are good choices) and just cooked through (do NOT boil to mushiness)(brocolli or Napa are not good choices if they are ‘left in’ because they change texture /turn to mush & impart additional tastes). Serve the carved up or chopped up chicken (on bone) with the rice, soup+veggies, and the sauce of your choice.

    Other sauces I use with this dish (other than the others already mentioned) include some variant of chilli sauce especially those meant for chicken; or finely chopped garlic sauteed in veggie oil till they are just beginning to brown then the hot mix quenched with a good soy sauce (amount as desired)(I usually use Kikkoman – I like it) diluted with a little water or splash of rice vinegar if desired. The chicken livers can also make a nice sauce for this – puree or finely chop/smash+chop, sautee in oil that already has finely chopped shallots in it, toss a little, add stock, salt to taste, cover & simmer for a while, pulp mix a bit more if desired, serve. NB: There are sometimes furious ‘discussions’ about the best chili sauce to accompany this kind of chicken/Hainan-style chicken. :-)

  38. Emmy said:

    Okay, so I had to comment here even though this post is from years ago. After searching for good versions of this dish in restaurants all around Portland I decided to man up and try making it myself. I’ve made it a few times now and it is my go-to comfort meal. The chicken is tender and juicy and the sauce is OMG SO GOOD. I put it on my chicken, my rice, and whatever veggie I’ve got going on the side. This recipe rocks!

    Because my pot is sometimes not quite big enough for a large chicken I’ve found it helpful to flip my chicken over for the last 3-4 minutes of boiling to make sure everything gets cooked enough. Alternatively, if I start carving the chicken and the breast is perfect but the legs need a bit more time I just toss them back into the simmering broth for a couple minutes. Speaking of the broth, have I mentioned what an amazing base for soup it is? If you, like me, lack the skills and equipment to chop up your chicken Chinese-butcher style I recommend carving it normally, cutting the meat into small pieces. The remaining carcass can go right back into the broth to simmer another hour or so, leaving you with an awesome stock for leftover soup the next day, just add noodles!

  39. Nate said:

    You’ve gotten terrific info in this case.

  40. Lorena said:

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  41. Chester said:

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  42. Jewell said:

    You’ve got astonishing knowlwdge on this site.

  43. Minda said:

    Maintain the great work and generating the group!

  44. Rachele said:

    Maintain the amazing work !! Lovin’ it!

  45. I came across this page while searching for “White Cut Chicken” to make for my highschooler, who is taking Mandarin Chinese. His latest assignment was to taste one of the Chinese regional cuisines, and he had picked this dish out from the suggestions given for Guangdong Cuisine, as looking particularly tasty.
    I will have to make a couple compromises in the recipe based on what I have on hand at the moment in the kitchen (eg. chicken breast instead of whole chicken), but am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
    Thank you so much.

  46. huiray said:

    @Kristin (@DailyKitchen.com)

    I’m afraid you will lose quite a bit by using just chicken breast, although if you are careful (in re: cooking/poaching chicken breasts and all that can go wrong; the timing will also be adjusted as I’m sure you know) you will get a flavor of what the dish using a whole chicken will achieve (with the bones adding to the stock). Good luck, though.

    As “bonus research” for your youngster, ask him/her to look into the difference between “White Cut Chicken”/Bai Qie Ji/Pak Chit Kai (Cantonese, which is what would be spoken in Hong Kong :-)) and “Hainanese Chicken Rice” and “Wenchang Chicken”. :-)

  47. Don said:

    If uncomfortable with cooking a whole chicken and/or cutting up a chicken with the bones, I learned from my mother to do the same recipe with just chicken drumsticks. The bones still help create a great broth, and the chicken is easier to handle and eat.

  48. Beatrice said:

    Really wanted to emphasize Now i’m lucky I stumbled onto your webpage.

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