If you don’t care for poached chicken skin—or just want to make a tasty, crispy topping—you can do as I’ve done here and remove the skin from the cooked chicken to roast at a low temperature until it’s brittle and golden. I find that just a touch of mayonnaise will help bind the juices in this salad; the chicken is so moist that it doesn’t need much help. You can also just follow the recipe for the ginger-scallion oil below and use it for anything!
- Fill a pot with just enough water to fully submerge your chicken. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Place the chicken in the pot and cover with the lid. Let sit for 1 hour.
- Turn on the heat, almost but not quite bringing the water to a boil. Watch closely and turn off the heat just before it begins to boil. Let sit covered for another hour.
- Carefully remove the chicken from the water and set aside to drain. Stick a thermometer in the thigh; if the juices run clear and the temperature just reaches 160°F, it’s done. If not, place back in the water, bring the water almost to a boil, and let sit covered for another 10 minutes at a time, checking the temperature.
- Let the chicken cool completely and air-dry for 1 hour. Carve to remove all bones (you can place bones in the stockpot of poaching liquid and boil to make some great stock with it). Dice the boneless chicken meat, setting aside the skins for the cracklins.
- Carefully peel all the cooked skin from the chicken, and lay out the skin flat in a single layer (with at least ½” in between pieces) on a baking sheet. Place in a 300°F oven and let roast for about 15 minutes, or until the pieces are uniformly golden brown and crisp as crackers. Remove immediately from the tray, and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle the cracklins with salt and break up.
- Combine the minced ginger, scallions, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large, heatproof glass or metal bowl and set aside for 30 minutes. Heat the sesame oil until it bubbles and pops for a few seconds. Pour the hot oil all over the minced vegetables. Mix well.
- Combine the chopped chicken with the ginger-scallion oil. Stir in the mayonnaise and optional diced celery or cucumber, and add salt and white pepper to taste. Serve with optional discs of cucumber and/or radish as garnish, as well as pieces of the cracklins in sandwich bread, rolls, or lettuce wraps.
Cathy Erway is the author of the cookbook The Food of Taiwan and the memoir The Art of Eating In. She hosts the podcasts Self Evident, exploring Asian American stories, and Eat Your Words on Heritage Radio Network, and blogs at Not Eating Out in New York.