3 young chickens, weighing together about 6 lbs.
2.1/2 oz. scallion
2 tablespoons ginger root
2 teaspoons Chinese peppercorn
9 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon gourmet powder
2 tablespoons daqu liquor (may be replaced by brandy)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1) Chop off claws and wing-tips of each chicken. Cut a slit at the end and to the left of the neck. Turn the skin inside out at the opening to expose the crop. Cut the gullet connected with it and the windpipe as well. Pull gullet and windpipe and cut them off from near the end. Discard them all.
Place each chicken on its back and cut a horizontal opening across the lower part of the belly. Draw the entrails from here. Wash chickens clean.
2) Rub chicken evenly with 6 tablespoons of salt, inside and outside. Let set for about 2 hours.
3) Put in saucepot: Chickens and cold water to submerge, scallion (cut in lengths), ginger root, peppercorn, salt (3 tablespoons) and liquor. Bring to a boil and skim the stock. Change over to low flame and keep the pot simmering for one hour. When the legs are very tender, i.e., when the meat will become detached from the bone with a pinch, mix in gourmet powder and remove pot from fire to cool down. Before serving, take out chickens, brush on sesame oil evenly all over, cut into pieces of appropriate size and pour on the original sauce.
(1) This is a cold dish with the chicken creamy white, its taste delicious and its texture both firm and easy to chew.
(2) With a little variation, this recipe will produce one of four other cold chicken dishes: "Scallion Oil Chicken", "Prickly Chicken", "Red Oil Chicken" or "Chicken with an Exotic Taste". The differences are: (a) reduce the amount of salt when chicken is salted and simmered; (b) prepare a different sauce for the final dressing of the cooked and cut chicken, thus:
(a) Scallion oil sauce - Clean and shred scallion white. Mix it with a little salt and gourmet powder in a small bowl. Heat an appropriate amount of sesame oil in wok till it smokes, and pour it while hot slowly over scallion in bowl, stirring in the meantime, so that it gives out the smell of fried scallion. Add a little of the original chicken stock and the sauce is done. Proportion in volume: 1 part of scallion to 2 parts of sesame oil.
(b) Prickly sauce - Place cleaned scallion (equal parts of white and green) and roasted Chinese peppercorn (1/3 of scallion in volume) on work-board. Shred scallion and chop both together with back of cleaver until the mixture becomes a mash. Mix it in a small bowl with soya sauce, sesame oil and gourmet powder (and chilli oil at option) and this becomes the dressing sauce. Amount of scallion and peppercorn may vary to taste.
(c) Red oil sauce - Mix chilli powder in a small bowl with a little cool sesame oil. Heat a greater amount of sesame oil in wok till it smokes and pour it while hot slowly into bowl of chilli powder, stirring in the meantime, till the oil becomes dark red. Wash scallion white and cut in 1/4-inch pieces. Mix this in another small bowl with an appropriate amount of chilli oil, soya sauce and gourmet powder.
(d) Exotic-taste sauce - Dilute sesame paste with soya sauce and mix well. Add vinegar, sugar, minced scallion and garlic, prickly ash and chilli oil. This becomes a sauce of mixed tastes - salty, sour, sweet, prickly, hot, delicious and aromatic. While the salty flavor may be the leading feature, none of the tastes should be so strong as to overwhelm the others.