Traditionally, this recipe uses a whole chicken, marinated, wrapped in lotus leaves, immersed in a bed of hot rock salt in a wok, and cooked on a stovetop. The modern convenience of an oven makes it much easier to control the cooking temperature. Allowing the chicken to stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking creates succulent results. The golden color of the roasted bird also represents wealth, and serving a whole chicken is thought to ensure good luck for the coming year. Garlic chives make a memorable garnish.
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 (1 x 2–inch) strip dried tangerine peel
1 (4.5- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
5 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
How to Make It
Combine 2 1/2 cups boiling water and tangerine peel in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid.
Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub 1 tablespoon salt under skin; let stand 5 minutes. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on the rack of a roasting pan; let stand 1 hour at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Transfer chicken to a work surface. Combine remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, shallots, ginger, wine, soy sauce, oil, and honey in a small bowl. Rub 3 tablespoons shallot mixture inside cavity of chicken. Place onions and tangerine peel inside cavity. Rub remaining shallot mixture under loosened skin.
Place chicken, breast side up, on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour reserved tangerine soaking liquid into a shallow roasting pan; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer registers 165° and skin has turned a dark golden brown color. Let stand 15 minutes. Discard skin, and slice.
This is a truly amazing recipe. So simple, yet so so so so so tasty! I also used fresh tangerine peels, as I had tangerines on hand and wanted to use them up. Also, I couldn't find rice wine, so I used rice wine vinegar. Since vinegar is obviously much more pungent than wine, I used half the amount called for and doubled the honey. That seemed to be a good call because the final result was simply fantastic. The only problem was I couldn't stop eating it!