Water for steaming the chickenfill the wok up to the height of a high steaming rack
1TBspShao Xing Wineoptional
Remove the legs, bishop's nose and innards from the chicken. Remove any remnant feathers on the skin. Wash the cavity.
Rub the skin and cavity of the chicken with the 2 Tbsp of coarse salt. Then wash the skin thoroughly and drain dry.
Rub the chicken with the light soya sauce and let it sit for 15 mins.
Remove the seeds from the red dates. Lightly rinse the red dates, dang shen, bei qi, longan, churn gong and wolfberries.
In a small pot, pour in the 500ml of water and bring to a boil. Add all the herbs except the wolfberries to the pot and boil for 10-15 mins over low heat.
Add the 1/2 tsp of fine salt to the mixture, and stir well.
Sieve the herb mixture, and retain both the herbs and the water.
Line a baking tin with aluminium foil and waxed paper. The waxed paper should be large enough to loosely wrap around the chicken, while the aluminium foil should be large enough to wrap around the waxed paper and chicken to make a seal.
Place the chicken in a baking tin which has been lined with the waxed paper and aluminium foil.
Insert the boiled sieved herbs and the wolf berries into the cavity of the chicken and place some on top of the chicken.
Pour all the water from the herbs mixture onto the chicken
Seal the chicken by loosely wrapping the chicken with the waxed paper, then folding the waxed paper together with the aluminium foil into a parcel to ensure the chicken is completely sealed (see pictures for how I usually do it).
Place a high steaming rack in a wok. Pour in water until it reaches the height of the high steaming rack, then bring to a boil.
Once the water is boiling, place the baking tin with the chicken parcel onto the steaming rack, and steam the chicken for 2.5 to 3 hrs over medium heat.
When the chicken is done, slowly unfold the aluminium foil and pour in 2 Tbsp of chinese wine (optional), then fold it back again until it is ready to be served. Be very careful when you unfold the aluminium foil because the steam will be scorching hot.
Use a medium sized chicken for this dish. Too large and the flavour of the herbs will not fully infuse into the chicken, and it will not be as soft in texture based on this cooking time. On the other hand, the smaller chickens like Kampong Chicken won't have enough meat to be substantial.
Rub the chicken with coarse salt to remove all the dead yellowish skin from the chicken, especially under the wings, in between the folds of the chicken thigh and other crevices. If you skip this step, the chicken may have a smell after it is cooked.
Remember to wash the chicken thoroughly after rubbing it with salt, otherwise the dish may end up too salty.
Rub the chicken with light soya sauce to enhance its taste as well as to give it a nice color when it is cooked.
Add the Wolf berries in last, because if you boil them for too long, they will become sourish in flavour.
When wrapping the parcel, seal the chicken as best as possible, so that all the flavours of the herbs will be nicely contained within the chicken, and the heat will be retained in the parcel for a longer time.
Place the chicken in the baking tray after cooking as some of the soup may still leak out from the parcel.
Make sure there is sufficient water to steam the chicken. If you use too little water, it won't produce enough steam so the chicken will take a long time to cook and won't be as soft and tender.
Make sure to use boiling water if you need to top up the water for steaming at any time, otherwise the change in temperature will affect the cooking time.