Method: Salt-roasting Serves 4 to 6 as a main course. May be served hot or cold; if cold, the chicken may be prepared up to a day in advance. (Do not reheat.) Suggested beverage: Pinot Noir or Burgundy
3 slices fresh ginger root 3 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed 3 whole scallions, cut into 3-inch sections 1 tablespoon peanut oil 1 tablespoon bean sauce 2 tablespoons thin soy sauce 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry 1 tablespoon sugar 1 whole star anise 1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns, roasted 1/4 cup chicken broth 8 whole stems Chinese parsley
[This marinade can also be used on roasted duck. S.C.]
Fill the chicken with the marinade, skewer it shut, and allow it to dry for 1 1/2 hours.
1. Wrap the chicken in a large piece of caul fat or cheesecloth soaked in oil.
2. Heat the salt in a pot [heavy Dutch oven, big wok or whatever can take the heat. S.C.] on top of the stove over a low flame or in the oven at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour. Pour off some of the salt, leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Lay the chicken on top of the salt in the pot and cover it with the remaining salt. Cover the pot and bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
3. Remove the chicken from the salt.
4. Pull off the salt that remains caked on the chicken. Be careful, because the salt is hot.
5. With a paper towel, wipe away the remaining salt. (The salt in the pot can be reused.)
6. Peel off the caul fat, drain the marinade, and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.
From "Chinese Technique" by Ken Hom with Harvey Steiman. Simon and Schuster, New York. 1981.
These are good "guest" foods. You can appear to have mastered esoteric Oriental cooking techniques without ever having actually prepared the dish before... Unless you drop the pot on the kitchen floor and set it on fire with the hot salt, it's a pretty foolproof cooking technique.
I'd serve these two recipes with hot mustard, a bowl of hoisin sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, spiced salt and a bowl of chopped green onions for dipping along with some sweet Chinese pickles and lots of ice-cold Oriental beer. Heaven! (And rice, of course.)