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Master Sauce Cookery Part 3: Lu Shui Chicken

Lewd Chicken 1

Poaching a whole chicken in the Chinese fashion and then serving the succulent and richly flavored result as a cold appetizer was one of the ideas I had in mind when I began my ‘Master Sauce’ project back on February 26th. The sauce is now a little over a month old and this will be its second use following the Red-Cooked Pork Hocks dish that I cooked back on March 6th and then wrote about a week or so ago.

During the month or so that the sauce has been in existence, I have brought it briefly to the boil on four different occasions to keep it fresh and then, following the pork hock experiment, I replenished some of the liquid (mostly with water, but also a little soy sauce and rice wine) and I also simmered some onion, celery and mushroom trimmings in it to further add to the depth of flavor. I have not felt it necessary to use any further spice ingredients yet as I like the way that the current spice level is mellowing nicely and providing background notes without being too assertive.

If you want to try cooking chicken the same way, you can, if you wish, start from scratch with a batch of fresh Master Sauce as per my original recipe, but I am looking forward to seeing how the accumulated richness of my current sauce works in this simple dish…

Lewd Chicken 2

I am using a small chicken (just under three pounds) for this experiment as this will be plenty for me and the and the wife. For the first step, you need to wash the chicken, inside and out, and then trim away any visible fat.

Lewd Chicken 3

Next, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and then blanche the chicken for 2 – 3 minutes. This step is not critical, but it is helpful if you intend to re-use your master sauce later and want to keep it as clear as possible.

Lewd Chicken 4

After blanching, rinse the chicken inside and out under cold running water and wash away any scum or ‘bits’ leftover from the blanching process.

Lewd Chicken 5

For the actual poaching, we will be using a Chinese method that results in a very tender and succulent chicken. To do this, bring your master sauce to the boil and then add the chicken. The heat in the pot will drop when you do this and you need to allow the sauce to come back to the boil again. When this happens, turn the heat down to low and then cover the pot. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes (depending on the size of the bird) and then turn off the heat… DO NOT remove the lid from the pot, or even remove the pot from the stove, but let the chicken continue to cook in the water as it cools (which will take a good three hours or so to cool completely).

In some recipes, the simmering on low heat is omitted and the heat turned off after the water has come to a boil a second time. However, many Chinese like chicken that is still pink near the bone and I prefer to cook a little bit longer. If you want to be a little more scientific, you can simply let the chicken stew in the pot until a thermometer inserted onto the thickest part of the flesh reads 170 degrees.

Lewd Chicken 6

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove it from the sauce and pat dry then chill it in the refrigerator after brushing the skin with a little sesame oil.

Lewd Chicken 7

Finally chop the chicken Chinese style (or into any portion sized pieces you prefer) and then plate and serve along with a dipping sauce of your choice. Scallion and ginger in oil is a favorite but, for this occasion, I mixed chili paste into a soy sauce and vinegar.

The Verdict and a follow up…

Well, the cold chicken was beautifully succulent and the flavors of the master sauce really penetrated the meat very nicely. My wife and I had some of it for lunch and then I used the rest of the chicken for a second dish at supper…

Lewd Chicken 8

I have been playing around with using moist cooking methods to cook chicken before frying it and I decided to try it with the leftovers here. In this case, I tossed the pieces in beaten egg and then coated them with flour mixed with chili flakes, salt and black pepper. I then deep fried them and served them with a sweet and sour sauce made from a little of my master sauce mixed with sugar, vinegar and then thickened with a cornstarch solution over high heat. The result, I have to say was delectable.

Anyway, I have more plans for my master sauce and I am thinking that the next experiment will involve ribs…


21 Comments Post a comment
  1. As always… Thanks for the information and the great food!

    April 5, 2013
  2. Your experiments are always interesting to follow.

    April 5, 2013
  3. Your master sauce posts are wonderful! Something I should do. I’ve frequently poached chicken this way, although it’s been some time. My method was closer to your second method – bring the water to a boil, add chicken, then turn off heat and cover (I think I left the chicken in the water for an hour, but I’d need to check the recipe). I’ve been thinking of preparing chicken this way lately – the meat is so juicy, and it’s perfect for salad! Fun post – thanks.

    April 5, 2013
    • My pleasure 🙂 There are lots of different procudures described, including a farily involved series of bringing the liquid to a boil several times and refreshing the chicken under cold water after each time before the final poaching. Apparently this improves the texture of the skin and helps prevent tearing. I’ll probably experiment with that sometime but the simpler process I describe does result in very succulent meat… and salad would be a great use too!

      April 5, 2013
  4. Looks fantastic, John! I love seeing what you have been doing with the master sauce. So versatile. If only I had more room in my fridge . . .

    April 5, 2013
    • Yeah …. the fridge space is a bit of a nuisance 😦

      April 5, 2013
  5. Chicken looks delicious. My mother would parboil a whole chicken slowly for hours in a bit of salt and ginger root. Then chop it up, cool it down and whole family would eat it simply with dipping sauce made from a chicken broth and finely minced green onion. That’s it. It’s eating meat real naked and the best way to assess the quality of the chicken meat.

    April 6, 2013
    • That sounds like a proper ‘white cut’ chicken (白切雞) …. scallion oil is a nice dipping sauce too. Just chop green onion with just a little salt, pour over some very hot oil and let it sizzle and cool 🙂

      April 6, 2013
  6. A fascinating post! The chicken looks great and the master sauce looks like an amazing flavour explosion!


    April 6, 2013
    • Thanl you … unless I get careless, the flavor should only improve. This week when I bring it to a boil to keep it fresh I will simmer it with some ham trimmings and dried mushroom stems I have been collecting (and probably a bit more ginger and garlic) 🙂

      April 6, 2013
  7. Thank you, Master of Chinese cuisine …Including Cantonese cuisine . I am embarrassed to say that I would not cook a whole chicken anymore ….because it is so easy here to buy one. Cutting up a whole chicken requires skills that I don’t have.

    What my sister usually will do is to use soya sauce instead of Lu shui. The result is soya sauce chicken. Let me see if we will try Lu shui next time. Thank you for the post.

    April 6, 2013
    • Hardly a Master! The cutting is pretty easy if you shears instead of a cleaver … lot harder to miss 🙂

      April 6, 2013
  8. Absolutely professionally looking… bet the taste was superb…

    April 6, 2013
  9. Outstanding post! This is definitely something I have to try.
    The cooking method reminds me a bit of sous-vide because the chicken is cooked at a low temperature to keep it moist. (Many do not realize that chicken will become dry if you boil it, even though it is submerged in liquid while you do so.) I would probably consider it cooked at 150 degrees rather than 170 — perhaps I have a Chinese preference for doneness of chicken?
    I like the idea of deep-frying it afterwards, too.

    April 7, 2013
  10. Hi, mouthwatering blog 😉
    My father used the master sauce to cook jong chikens or doves and after that deep fried them without cutting them before. just marvelous ^-^

    March 5, 2014
    • I may do that with Cornish Game Hens … they are small enough to deep-fry whole in my kitchen 🙂

      March 5, 2014

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Master Sauce Back-Ribs | Sybaritica
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  3. Chinese Master Sauce (鹵水) | Sybaritica

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