Chicken (Whole) for Chinese Soups
Chicken (whole), fowl, hen
Traditional Chinese Name:
For videos, visit us on YouTube.
Ah! The chicken! For Chinese soups, there are a few types of chicken available. Let’s talk about chickens.
- The standard white chicken (pictured above). This is your normal chicken which is readily available in all supermarkets. They come in various cut and part, or as one whole chicken (literally). I actually prefer the whole chicken because you can prepare it any way you like.
- The second type of chicken that’s most common in Chinese soups is the black silkie chicken (see below). This chicken is the dark-skinned version of the two and more potent in its yang qi (or warmth). This is the chicken of choice for healing or confinement soup recipes and usually come as a whole chicken.
- Then you have the variations of the two in terms of size, location of birth, and how they were raised (some are free range, some are not, some are smaller fowls, some are hens, or the different types of breeds).
How do I prepare it?
- To use for soups, think about the size and usage of the chicken. In most Chinese soups, the meat isn’t always eaten, but I don’t like to waste, so will quarter them and serve as part of the deal to be dipped in soy sauce. What I’ll usually save is the breast (for another meal) and use the legs, feet, head, neck, and bones in the soup.
- Pat dry the chicken before you cut it. You don’t need to wash the chicken before hand, this is what blanching is for.
- Cut off the feet first and also can remove the nails from the feet
- Cut your chicken into pieces (I usually do quarters)
- Some people prefer to skin the chicken and make the soup without the skin and reduce the amount of fat by trimming any fat off the chicken first
- Put on a pot of separate boiling water and drop the chicken in for 7-9 minutes or until the water re-boils. This will help eliminate some of the fat, bone bits, blood, and any foam to produce a clean soup later on.
Where can I buy it and cost?
- This will definitely vary depending on where you buy it and how the chicken was raised.
- In Canada, it can be as cheap as $12 CAD per whole white chicken and $18 CAD per silkie chicken.
- In Hong Kong, wet marts sell them for around $80-100 HKD per chicken, depending on weight. I don’t see live chickens much anymore in Hong Kong and the vendor will help you prepare it by chopping it and cleaning it, so you can definitely request this.
- Worst case is to use chicken parts (I usually keep some legs lying around in the freezer just in case).
- Boiled white meat is healthier to consume than red meats
- Using the whole chicken (bones and all) helps with providing collagen
- Skinless and boiled chicken is a great low-fat protein. It is lower in calories, fats and saturated fats than most other meats
- Chicken is extremely dense in nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, phosphorous, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin
- In TCM, the chicken is considered the warmer of the meats, replenishing yang qi and nourishing the blood.
Wash your hands and cutting utensils thoroughly after handling raw poultry to avoid cross-contamination like salmonella
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
This is a great starter video to build our your basic Chinese soup pantry. A handful of these ingredients are actual amazing with one simple chicken. It’s your basic Chicken Herbal Soup here!
How long do we need to pre-boil the chicken before draining?
You should pre-boil or blanch for about 5 minutes. Make sure you put the raw chicken into boiling water (not cold water). The oil, dirt + extras all come out to give you a cleaner soup base. Hope this helps.
What kind of chicken should we use?
Dear Lam, to be fair, any type of chicken actually. White, black are both OK. Hope this helps, Lisa