These two provinces also share a favorite poultry dish, for Anhui's is none other than Fuliji Poached Chicken (Fujili shao ji), which is pretty much the identical twin of this Daokou hometown favorite. And if that were not enough, both of these are direct descendants of one of Shandong's greatest poultry dishes, Five Fragrance Fall-Off-The-Bone-Tender Braised Chicken (Wuxiang tuogu paji). Culinary lineages are often more complicated than ethnic heritage of the average American, it seems.
In many ways this is an extravagant dish because it is fried in toasted sesame oil, and the blast of its mouthwatering fragrance will wake up your appetite with a roar. The skin caramelizes as it fries thanks to the thick sugary goo called maltose, although honey will do in a pinch.
This deep brown chicken is finally set down into a pot of herbal goodness that will add other layers of delectable aromas to this fragrant cloud. The good news about all this prep and cost is that both the oil and the poaching broth can be used a couple of more times as long as they are properly stored, so consider them savory investments.
|The finished dish|
I have modified the original recipe a bit, since it calls for 13 herbs that are often quite hard to locate; those in the directions here are generally easy to find even in the States, but whatever you cannot find, just leave it out, and the chicken will still be marvelous!
Serve this chicken as a starter at either room temperature or just slightly warmed. You will want to chill the chicken after it is done because it is so tender that it cannot be cut up without falling apart. So, let it come to room temperature, cover it and chill it overnight, and then cut it into pieces the next day. This is a great party food, as it can be done in steps many days ahead of time, and it freezes beautifully.
Daokou poached chicken
Fuliji shaoji 符離集燒雞
Fuliji shaoji 符離集燒雞
Serves 6 to 8 as an entrée
Poaching broth:4 cups filtered water or stock
½ cup Shaoxing rice wine
¼ cup fish sauce (if no stock is used), or salt to taste
¼ cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rock sugar or granulated sugar
A large handful of dried tangerine or orange peel
1 tablespoon shajiang (sand ginger)
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel
4 star anise
½ a luohanguo, or increase sugar to taste
½ stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
½ cup maltose
4 cups roasted sesame oil
3. Melt the maltose or honey until it is runny, place the chicken on a clean plate, and then use a pastry brush to complete coat the chicken with the syrup. If the maltose starts to harden because of the cold chicken, just reheat it as needed.
|The correct temperature|
5. Gently lower the chicken into the oil and carefully turn it over and around in the hot oil so that all of the surfaces are a deep, mahogany brown.
6. I like to use two bamboo tongs to do this, as they can be shoved into the top and bottom cavities, be used to prop up the chicken as it browns on a wobbly side, and even flip it up on its end. Try not to use metal spatulas, which will tear the skin. If the skin does tear in places, or if it sticks to the wok, don't worry, as the chicken will be chopped up before serving and no one will be the wiser.
|Fry until deliciously brown|