Mom's Chinese Poached Chicken Recipe: Bak jum gai

I don't know why for sure, but I am obsessed with cooking whole chickens. Maybe it's because I grew up eating whole chickens with my family at dinner—roasted, poached, steeped in shoyu Hawaiian style. Or maybe it's because I love the idea of eating something whole. Or maybe it's because it's so fun to share a big bird with friends around the table. Then again, maybe it's because it's such an economical way to buy a chicken! One is enough to feed a small gathering.

I guess it doesn't matter why. I just love it. And so when Friday rolled around and my friend came over for dinner, we decided to crack open a cold bottle of white and make this tasty, but subtle, version of Chinese chicken, using my mom's recipe. 


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 3 stalks of green onions


Put salt, ginger and green onion stalks into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Lower whole, cleaned chicken into the water and bring to a boil again. Once boiling, lift the chicken up to pour out any water stuck in the cavity. Bring to boil again. 

Once it boils, bring the temperature down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 40-60 minutes—depending on the size of the chicken—or until you can poke the chicken with a fork and the juices run clear. 

Place chicken in ice bath to retract the jucies. Then serve. 

Eat with green onion and salt or mustard/shoyu or chili garlic.