Remove the chicken innards, then exfoliate the skin and cavity with coarse salt. Rinse well and pat dry. Leave the chicken head intact.
Rub the chicken all over with marinade ingredients and allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the skin from the ginger and slice it thinly.
Remove the skin from the shallots and garlic, then bruise slightly with the blunt surface of your knife.
Add the glaze ingredients together to form a syrup for later use.
Wash the spring onions and set aside.
In a deep medium-sized pot, heat up 1 TBsp of oil over medium heat. Then add in the garlic, shallots, ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and bay leaves and fry until aromatic.
Next, add in the 1 litre of water, 1.5 cups of dark soy sauce, spring onion and rock sugar, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, hold the chicken by its neck and lower it into the sauce, then lift it back out. Repeat this process three times.
Finally place the whole chicken into the pot ensuring 3/4 of chicken is immersed in the soya sauce mixture. Cover the pot and cook the chicken over low fire for about 20 minutes, turning it every 10 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high fire for 10 minutes to complete the cooking process. Check if the chicken is cooked through (see tips), then turn off the fire and allow the chicken to steep in the sauce for 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a plate and brush it all over with maltose syrup. Then brush it over with Chinese rice wine or Rose Rice Wine.
Once the chicken is cool, chop it into pieces and serve with rice or noodles.
Fork out premium dark soy sauce. Dark soy sauce is the star of this dish, so don't be afraid to fork out for a premium brand. I used Feng He Garden Dark Soy Sauce (double the price but well worth the premium!)
Use fresh chicken, not frozen, for this dish where possible - it will make a huge difference to the taste and texture of the dish.
Use a tall pot that fits the width of the chicken as it requires less water to cover the chicken, making the braising liquid more concentrated.
Rub the chicken all over and in the cavity with coarse salt. This removes dirt and the yellow membrane on the chicken skin, minimise the chicken odour and making the skin very smooth.
Twist the chicken wings into a 'arm-lock' before cooking, so you can lift the chicken out of the pot with chopsticks without breaking the skin.
Dunk the chicken in the boiling water a few times to seal the juices into the chicken as the skin goes through rapid expansion and contraction.
Retain the chicken head and neck as a handle for easy dunking.
Test doneness by inserting a fork or chopstick through the chicken thigh to the bone. If the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.
Recycle the gravy. You can refrigerate it and recycle it a few times to braise chicken wings or chicken thighs for another meal.
Substitute maltose with honey if you prefer
Use Chinese Rose Rice Wine instead of Chinese Rice Wine for a slightly sweeter aroma
Taste the dark soy sauce first if you are using a different brand, so you can make the necessary adjustments. Sodium content can vary a lot across brands, and in general, Chinese sauces tend to become more salty the longer they have been kept.