Chinese Steamed Chicken with Ginger Scallion Sauce

Chinese steamed chicken

This recipe’s contributor wants her grandchildren to call her PoPo. PoPo is the traditional Chinese name for grandmother on the mother’s side of the family.

PoPo loves this steamed chicken for its simplicity and bright, fresh flavor. It is common comfort food in Southern China. She usually steams a whole fryer chicken, but for easier preparation, I wrote this recipe to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

Serves 4


Special Equipment

Wok or 12+ inch frypan and a tight-fitting lid

Steaming plate: an 8-inch pie/cake pan

Small, wire rack: this elevates the steaming plate above the boiling water in the wok/frypan.
If you don’t have a wire rack you can criss-cross four chopsticks or skewers in a tic-tac-toe pattern (this option only works in a wok).

Elevation options: Four chopsticks or skewers in a tic-tac-toe pattern (left)
Small, wire rack (right)


Rice: Cook according to package instructions.

Sauce: Make while the chicken is steaming.

Wash and dry the ginger. Then peel and mince it. I peel ginger by pressing the edge of a spoon into its skin and pulling the spoon towards me.

Wash and dry the scallions. Cut off the roots and approximately 2-inches of the flimsy, dark green ends. Slice the scallions in half lengthwise and then chop super thin to make half-circles.

* PoPo prefers a volume ratio of 40% minced ginger to 60% chopped scallions. If necessary, prepare more ginger or scallions to reach her ratio or a 50-50 ratio.

Mix the ginger and scallions with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt in a large heatproof bowl—you will pour hot oil into it. Let this mixture sit for five minutes. Heat the canola oil in a small pan over medium heat until lightly smoking. Then carefully pour it over the ginger/scallion mixture. It will bubble and sputter like fireworks! After it settles down, stir it and transfer to a serving dish.

Chicken: Coat the chicken thighs in kosher salt (1/2 Tablespoon per pound) and let sit for five minutes. Rinse off all the salt, pat the thighs dry with a paper towel, and arrange them as one layer in the steaming plate.

Place the wire rack in the wok, and place the steaming plate + chicken on top of the rack. Pour enough water into the wok (not into the steaming plate), so that when the water boils it will barely skim the underside of the steaming plate (if too much water evaporates during steaming, pour in more). Put the tight-fitting lid on the wok, and boil the water over high heat (keep at high heat for duration of steaming).

Steam the chicken until the thickest parts reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F / 75 degrees C. This will take 15 – 30 minutes depending on how much chicken you cook, approximately 18 minutes for 1.75 pounds. Note, don’t take the lid off to check the temperature for the first 15 minutes. After the chicken reaches temperature, turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let sit for 10 more minutes.

Remove chicken from the steaming plate, slice thin, and lay the pieces on each serving of rice. Spoon a generous amount of sauce over each serving.


Leftovers: Prepare fried rice however you like, but before the rice + egg mixture finishes cooking, add some ginger scallion sauce so all of it caramelizes together.

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