Clear steaming is a double-boiling technique used by Chinese cooks in which a food is cooked slowly in a closed container, resulting in an intense, clear broth. It keeps for a week in the refrigerator.
- 1 3- to 3 1/2-pound whole chicken, giblets removed
- 6 cups boiling water
- 1 3/4 cups Shaoxing rice wine (available at Asian markets)
- 10 scallions, ends trimmed, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
- 1 1/2- to 2-inch piece ginger root, cut crosswise into 10 slices, each slice smashed with the flat side of a knife
Remove any fat from the cavity opening and around the neck of the chicken. Rinse lightly and drain.
Use a heavy knife or a cleaver to cut the chicken, through the bones, into 10 to 12 pieces.
Fill a large, deep soup pot with at least 2 quarts of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and let the water return to a boil (the chicken should be totally covered). Blanch for 1 minute, then drain the chicken and discard the water. Rinse the chicken in cold water and drain.
Boil a kettle of water for the soup and bain-marie.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a large, enameled Dutch oven or a large souffle dish (big enough to hold all the chicken pieces) inside a large roasting pan to create a bain-marie of sorts.
Place the chicken pieces in the Dutch oven or souffle dish along with 6 cups of boiling water, Shaoxing wine, scallions and ginger. (Boil additional water if necessary for the bain marie.) Cover the pot or dish tightly with aluminum foil, then, if using a Dutch oven, fit the lid securely on top of the foil. Place in the oven, then pour the just-boiled water into the roasting pan so that the water comes 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the Dutch oven or souffle dish.
Roast for 2 hours, adding boiling water as needed to maintain the water level in the roasting pan.
Skim the top of the broth to remove impurities and fat. Add the salt to taste, stirring to dissolve. (To completely defat the soup, refrigerate it for several hours or until the fat congeals on the surface for easy removal.)
To serve, discard the ginger and scallions. Ladle the soup and pieces of the chicken into individual bowls; provide discard bowls for bones, if desired. (If desired, remove the chicken from the soup, pull the meat off the bones, discard bones and skin, and return the shredded pieces of chicken to the broth.)
To reheat and retain a clear broth, steam or roast in a closed pot in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until piping hot.
Adapted from "A Spoonful of Ginger," by Nina Simonds (Knopf, 1999).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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