Tender chicken pieces seasoned with a super aromatic dressing, Chinese scallion oil chicken is easy to make and tastes amazing.
What is scallion oil chicken
Scallions (aka green onion, spring onion) are essential to Chinese cooking. Apart from being used as a complementary aromatic like ginger or garlic, sometimes they’re the star of a dish (think the famous Scallion Pancakes).
Today’s dish, scallion oil chicken (Cōng Yóu Jī/葱油鸡), is a good example. It’s a combination of the iconic Chinese condiment Scallion Oil (葱油) and perfectly poached chicken that tastes tender and juicy.
Different from many Chinese dishes which are heavy on spices and seasonings, this dish stands out for its simplicity. And it’s very easy to make!
Try it if you’re new to Chinese cuisine or looking for quick & easy dishes for weekday meals.
Ingredients & substitutes
The ingredient list for scallion oil chicken is simple and short.
For poaching the chicken, you’d need:
- Chicken drumsticks, or whole chicken legs/chicken thighs (Breasts are less flavorful but acceptable)
- Scallions & ginger
- Shaoxing rice wine (skip it if unavailable)
For making the seasoning, you’d need
- Neutral cooking oil (sunflower, canola, vegetable, etc.)
- Scallions, a generous amount
- Ginger paste, hand-grated or jarred
- Light soy sauce
- White pepper, or ground Sichuan pepper (if you like a mouth-numbing sensation)
It doesn’t take long to make this dish. Two simple steps are all that you need to follow. And you can perform step 2 during the inactive time of step 1.
Step 1: Poach the chicken
Choose a saucepan or small pot that holds the chicken drumsticks snuggly. Pour in water that’s enough to cover the meat. Add halved scallions, ginger slices and Shaoxing rice wine (they’re for eliminating the gamey taste).
Bring the water to a boil and use a spoon to skim off any foam floating on the surface. Then reduce the heat so that the water stays at a bare simmer. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 12 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Let the chicken sit for another 10 minutes (the heat of the stock will continue to cook the meat).
Then take out the chicken and put it into a large bowl of cold water, with ice cubes if available.
Once the chicken becomes cool enough to touch, tear it by hand into bite-sized pieces. Discard the skin and bones (keep the stock for later use).
Step 2: Making the dressing
While you wait for the chicken to cook, start making the seasoning.
Halve the scallions. Use the white part to infuse the oil and the green part (finely chopped) for the final presentation.
Start frying the scallion white in room-temperature oil. Keep the heat low so that the aroma of the scallion is slowly released. Once the edge browns, turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon or chopsticks to pick out the scallion pieces (Do not burn them).
Add the scallion green and ginger paste. The remaining heat of the oil will sizzle them nicely.
🛎 NOTE: The amount of scallion oil produced in my recipe is more than you need for the dish. This is because you’d need sufficient oil to properly fry the scallions. In later sections, I’ll explain how to use the leftovers.
Assemble & serve
Place the torn chicken on a serving plate. Add a few spoonfuls of stock in which the chicken was poached earlier on. Then top with the scallion ginger oil, a pinch of white pepper (or Sichuan pepper) and some light soy sauce to season.
Alternatively, make a simple rice or noodle bowl with it as a topping, along with some blanched leafy greens.
How to use the leftovers
After serving the dish, you’d have some stock and scallion oil left. Here are some ideas to use them for other dishes.
- Leftover chicken stock: it’s great for Noodle Soup, Wonton Soup, Egg Drop Soup, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, etc.
- Leftover scallion oil: use it in stir-fries (e.g. Egg Fried Rice, Chicken Chow Mein, etc.); make Shanghai Scallion Oil Noodles, Use it to season cold dishes (e.g. Smashed Cucumber, Wood Ear Salad); Stir it into Dumpling Fillings; Use it as the filling for Scallion Pancakes/Scallion Bread, etc.
Other easy chicken recipes
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Scallion Oil Chicken (葱油鸡)
For poaching the chicken
- 6 chicken drumsticks - see note 1
- 2 stalks scallions - halved
- 6 slices ginger
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine - optional
For the dressing
- 5 stalks scallions
- 4 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 pinch ground white pepper - or ground Sichuan pepper
- 2 tablespoon light soy sauce
Poach the chicken
- Put chicken drumsticks in a saucepan/small pot. Pour in enough water to cover the chicken. Add scallions, ginger and Shaoxing rice wine.
- Bring the water to a full boil and skim off any foam floating on the surface. Turn the heat down to the lowest. Leave to simmer with a lid on for 12 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Let it sit (keep the lid on) for a further 10 minutes. Then transfer the chicken to a large bowl of cold water (with ice cubes if available). Keep the stock for later use.
- Once the chicken becomes cool enough to touch, remove the skin and bones. Tear the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Make the dressing
- Halve the scallions. Cut the white part into 2-3 sections. Finely chop the green part.
- Put the white part of the scallions into a dry, clean saucepan. Add oil. Fry over low heat until the scallions brown on the edge. Pick out the scallion pieces and turn off the heat.
- Quickly add the chopped scallion green and ginger paste to the hot oil and leave to sizzle.
Assemble the dish
- Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving plate. Add 2 tablespoons of the stock. Top with half of the scallion oil made in the last step (see note 2). Sprinkle white pepper and pour light soy sauce over.
- Serve with steamed rice, alone or with other savory dishes.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.