This is the only way to make poached chicken breast that guarantees it comes out perfectly cooked and ridiculously juicy, every single time! No fancy kitchen gadgets required.
The chicken is so juicy, you can eat it plain with no sauce, I swear. But because I love sauces so much, I’m serving this perfect poached chicken breast with a classic Ginger Shallot (Scallion) Sauce. So good, you will want to put it on everything!
Every since I discovered this genius way to poach chicken breast well over a decade ago, I have never used any other method. In fact, I barely consider this cooking. Well of course, the chicken is cooked. But this technique to poach chicken can barely be considered cooking.
Because this is all you do: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Plonk in chicken breast. Bring the water back up to the boil, plonk the lid on, then remove the saucepan from the stove. Let it stand for 20 – 45 minutes (seriously, there’s a big window!). And hey presto! A chicken breast that is so perfectly cooked and so crazy juicy, you will not believe your eyes!
Every time I make this, I always have a twinge of self doubt, worried that when I cut into the chicken it won’t be cooked through. And every single time, I worry for no reason. Because it always works. Always. Every single time. I have never had a fail – ever.
This is truly a foolproof recipe. And the simple reason is this: in every country, in every kitchen, on every stove, in every pot, the boiling point of water is 100C / 212F*. Because that is the key to this recipe: by simply leaving chicken breast submerged in boiling water and removing the saucepan from the stove, the chicken cooks in the residual heat but the falling water temperature is such that it does not allow the chicken to overcook.
It is bizarrely hard to take a photo that truly captures the juiciness of this chicken, but you can definitely see it in the video (below the recipe). You can literally see the glisten of juice on each slice as I slice it with my Baby Hands.
* Except at high altitudes, see recipe notes about this.
I mentioned earlier that this perfect poached chicken breast is so juicy, you can eat it plain. Honestly, try it. You won’t believe me until you try it for yourself.
In fact, it’s so juicy you can even eat it cold, straight out of the refrigerator. Yes, I put myself through the paces to really test out this recipe for you!! 😉
However, as good as the perfect poached chicken breast is, I couldn’t resist serving it up with a sauce. For today, I chose a Ginger Shallot Sauce. Aka Ginger Scallion Sauce, to the Americans reading this. ❤️ Or Ginger Spring Onion Sauce.
I am not actually sure of the real original of this sauce. It is basically the sauce used for Hainanese Chicken – in fact, this whole recipe I’m sharing today is like a simpler, much faster version of Hainanese Chicken (minus the rice). This sauce is also similar to David Chang’s recipe which I use in his Momfuku Marinated Beef Skirt Steak Ssam recipe that I shared in my early days.
Do not be fooled by the short ingredient list. This Ginger Shallot Sauce packs a serious flavour punch and is so good, you will want to put it on everything. Long after the chicken is gone, you will be dolloping it on the rice.
In fact, you know what? It’s 5.52pm on Monday right now. And 2 seconds after I hit publish, I’m making this for dinner for about the 3rd time in the last week. It’s that easy, that fast and that good! – Nagi x
- 2 chicken breasts , boneless skinless, 250g/8.5 oz each (Note 1)
- 3 - 4 shallots / scallions / spring onions , green and white part thinly sliced (1 heaped cup)
- 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 tbsp vegetable oil (or peanut or grapeseed oil)
- 1 tbsp chilli paste
- 1 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tsp grated ginger
Take chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
Fill a saucepan with water so the chicken breast will be well submerged with at least 2" / 5cm of water above it.
Bring water to boil. Place chicken breast in water, place lid on, bring back up to the boil. Remove saucepan from stove and set aside for 20 minutes (it's fine up to 45 min, won't overcook).
Remove chicken from water and slice. Serve with Sauces (below) and rice.
Combine and mix ingredients in a bowl. Set side for 20 minutes. It will sweat and become more liquidy.
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Set aside for 15 minutes.
1. This method works for chicken breast up to 300g/10 oz. If you use a 300g/10 oz chicken breast, you must take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, per the recipe. 250g/8oz chicken cooks just fine straight out of the fridge but I always take it out of the fridge early out of habit.
If using frozen chicken, it must be fully thawed before using.
2. This recipe works consistently every time because the chicken starts off in boiling water which is 100C/212F no matter which country, what stove, and what pot you're using! Chicken cooks at around 65C/150F, so while the boiled water is at or above this temperature, the chicken is cooking. Once it falls below, the chicken stops cooking and thus prevents the breast from overcooking, yielding a guaranteed perfectly cooked juicy chicken breast every single time!
3. Cook time: A 250g/8.5oz chicken breast will be done at 20 minutes, for a 300g/10oz one, I leave it for 25 to 30 minutes. Up to 45 minutes, and I still do not notice any loss of juiciness in the breast. Around 1 hour, I notice that it is slightly less juicy - but still way juicier than the usual methods of poaching!
4. High altitude locations: The higher above sea level you are, the lower the boiling point of water. This means that if you are located in a high altitude area, the recipe needs to be amended to boil for longer before taking it off the stove, to ensure the chicken cooks through. I intend to do some research on this and will update this note when I find out more - or if any readers leave definitive information about this!
5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings and the all the ginger sauce is consumed which it probably will not be because a little bit goes a long way! The oil in the sauce accounts for 150 calories of the total calories shown below.
Cooking video! So you can see for yourself how insanely juicy this perfect poached chicken breast really is!
LIFE OF DOZER
Looking thoroughly unimpressed with my offering of a teeny tiny scrap of broccolini stem…..Only because I ran out of leftover chicken after multiple takes which you’ll see at the end of the cooking video!!