white chicken

White Chicken

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Once in a long while, I crave for Chicken and Rice. After almost two weeks of making and eating Pasta and Spaghetti, I decided to steam some rice and boil a whole chicken. Usually, I’d keep about a pound of half a pound of either drumsticks or chicken wings in my freezer for occasions like these, but my new discovered grocery had a whole chicken on sale and I just had to grab it before it flies off the shelves. Furthermore, I promised Iska that I’d make a White Chicken dish just for her; in comparison with the Hainanese Chicken Recipes she had posted for the last couple weeks.

White Chicken is one of the dishes I eagerly crave for besides dimsum and curry with Naan bread. There are just days that I look for any one of those I mentioned and when I do, I really wouldn’t care less if I were by myself eating alone. That has become a norm for how many years now, anyway. I don’t understand why many people stare and scorn at individuals enjoying their meals by themselves. In a big city like Toronto, I have seen many, and I believe these people enjoy the relative ‘peace & quiet’ away from whatever they do for a living. I have done that countless times, and honestly, it’s very comforting. Having a company is a plus, but not mandatory. Thus, I created a Kitchen specially for this one.

Anyway, making the White Chicken is relatively easy. It, however, requires extreme patience on the part of the cook to produce something extraordinarily satisfying and filling meal in the end. This isn’t exactly like Tinola where a good half an hour can produce a decent meal. There are more spices added and aromatics involved and the long wait is crucial to perfecting the dish. The chicken itself is not the end of it all. The enormous amount of broth where the chicken was poached for nearly two hours is a by-product best kept for future use. Normally, I would freeze several containers of the chicken broth and only store a good amount for use in the next few days. Moreover, White Chicken can be turned into Soy Chicken or Fried Chicken later on. This is just the foundation of many other sub-recipes that can be drawn from the White Chicken dish itself. It can be eaten warm or cold, with rice or noodles, and by itself as a snack or appetizer as what many Chinese restaurants do. It’s just so versatile and it can literally feed a thousand if properly portioned and chopped.

1 Whole Chicken
Green Onion
White Onion

Cinnamon Sticks
Star Anise
Szechuan Peppercorns
Black Peppercorns
Salt & Ground Black

Wash & rinse the chicken and place it in a stockpot with water. Let it boil and discard the ‘first boil.’ Remove the chicken, rinse the pot and replace with warm water. Place the aromatics and spices into the pot.

Crank the stovetop to high and allow the pot to boil rapidly for about 15-20 minutes. Turn the stovetop off and cover the pot with a saucer or a small plate and allow the chicken to poach for about an hour to an hour and a half.

Remove the plates and gently lift the chicken off the pot using a spider. Leave the chicken in a strainer for another half an hour to drain all the excess liquid in its cavity.

Strain the chicken broth into another stockpot and save for future use.

Cut off the wings and the thighs and legs first and cut the breast in half. Chop into bite size pieces; Chinese Style.

Condiment: to taste
Canola Oil
Sesame Oil
Ginger & Green Onion, minced to a paste

Soy Chicken Rice

I had some doubts making a Soy Chicken. I don’t particularly know if the Chicken is poached in Soy sauce much like White Chicken, but looking back, if it were done so, the poaching liquid won’t be recycled in the process. Instead, I tried making ‘that sauce’ poured into many Chinese rice dishes as a final shine, and I believe I was successful enough to recreate the taste.

‘That Sauce:’ to taste/Combine & Reduce
Shaoxing Cooking Wine
Light Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Ground Black Pepper
Cornstarch Slurry as a thickening agent


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When I was growing up, my parents and I used to eat out and try different restaurants after celebrating the Sunday Mass. Moreover, during the course of the summer break, I had the opportunity to see some places which, when looking back, I had never realized how lucky I was as a teen to be able to travel. My family and I went to Europe and some parts of the United States, and what I saw along that path of my life inspired me to become a 'Chef.' The 'whites' they wore for me, during those growing-up and finding 'myself' years, portrayed a sort of fascinating and powerful figure in an extremely sophisticated, higly inviting and invigorating work place; and still maintain an unblemished and clean uniform after a very busy service. That picture of a 'Chef' stuck to my head for so many years.

True enough, with meager resources left to spend for the youngest, that dream never happened. Life went on. I went to university and studied an insignificant course, Business Management, and after graduating, I ended up working as a Credit and Financial Analyst in the banking industry in Manila; slugging it out in the corporate arena in Makati. It was the first taste of being called a 'yuppie' and was almost always looking forward to an after-office eating and drinking extravaganza in the expanding and growing Makati Business District; and, of course, the weekend.

Anyway, forging ahead to my life today, that dream as 'Chef' stayed in the back of my mind all the time that when I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003; and after finally settling down on my own in 2005, I had started studying Professional Culinary Arts Courses in the City College to get that almost long-forgotten 'dream' going again. It was a Continuing Education Course, and more or less, students who have also shifted careers or who were trying to find work (like myself) as a newly landed found ourselves working with pots, knives and fire which I believe and I felt, everyone in class have never, ever touched during their past, professional lives.

Since then, I have been working in and out of different kitchens; flipping eggs and hamburgers, grilling steaks, shoving bread and chicken in a 500'C oven, and almost anything that can be either deep-fried or toasted just to serve hungry, sometimes pesky, customers. I became a 'grease' cook; a short-order cook with no definite place of employment, and definitely not a 'Chef.'

My articles are based on the after-thoughts of my past and present day experiences in this fast-paced, starkling, and sometimes disheveling kitchen environment. I never imagined that a kitchen 'worklife' turned that way as against the 'Ideal' environment I had thought about for years. No regrets. During this journey, I've discovered food which I've never thought I'd be able to taste. I learned to appreciate wine and travel more; now that I have understood the culture of food to society. That was non-existent when I was growing up.

This journey has not ended. I'm still discovering and still learning. It's a tough industry to be in and for what's next or for where I'll finally end up in remain a sordid mystery.

14 thoughts on “White Chicken

  1. This looks great. I like the look of the sauce , I think that will definitely enhance the taste of the chicken. I will try this one day. Thanks for sharing.

  2. oh wow…that got me drooling!
    why is the water removed during the “first boil”? para matanggal ung lansa? sorry, just curious… ;)

    thanks so much for sharing and linking over at Food Friday
    so sorry for the super late visit….
    maiylah recently posted Rainy Days

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