There are few dishes as mouthwatering and flavorful as salt baked chicken. This traditional cooking method, which has its origins in Chinese Hakka cuisine, has been celebrated for centuries for its ability to produce tender, succulent, and aromatic chicken.
The chicken is seasoned with local herbs, wrapped in parchment paper to lock in the moisture and natural chicken juices, and encased in a thick layer of salt before being baked in a preheated oven or heated over an open fire. This cooking method preserved the chicken’s juiciness and infuses it with additional fragrances from the herbs.
The magic of salt baked chicken lies in its ability to produce a succulent and incredibly flavorful chicken with minimal ingredients. The salt acts as both a seasoning and a cooking medium, infusing the meat with a subtle saltiness that enhances the natural taste of the chicken without overpowering it.
The chicken’s texture is a standout feature of this cooking method. By encasing it in a salt crust, the chicken steams within its own juices, resulting in tender, moist meat that practically falls off the bone. This gentle cooking process ensures that the chicken remains juicy and prevents it from drying out.
Furthermore, the aromas that waft from the salt baked chicken are tantalizing, creating an almost irresistible allure. The fragrance of the herbs and spices permeates the flesh, awakening the senses and building anticipation for the moment of tasting.
Salt baked chicken has achieved a cult-like status in the town of Ipoh in Malaysia, becoming a tourist attraction in it’s own right, with numerous restaurants selling just salt baked chicken for generations. I’ve tried to recreate the dish at home, but instead of using an oven or open fire, I’ve used an air fryer to speed up the baking process, and it tastes just as good as the real thing! So let’s get to it!
Watch How To Make It
Air Fryer Salt-Baked Chicken
- Air fryer
- 1 kg whole chicken
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 inch ginger sliced
- 500 g salt
- 6 pcs dang gui (female ginseng)
- some wolfberry
- Clean the chicken and pat it dry.
- Rub Shaoxing wine on the chicken and let it air dry for an hour.
- Rub salt on the chicken and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Make a parchment paper bag for the chicken. Fold the sides twice before you staple them, and make sure there is enough room for the chicken to be sealed in so the juices don't leak out.
- Place some ginger and dang gui into the chicken, and put it in the bag.
- Place the remaining ginger, dang gui and wolfberry around the chicken in the bag.
- Use a large bowl to mold the aluminium foil into a bowl shape.
- Pour some salt at the bottom of the aluminium foil to form a base, then put the chicken on top, and pour more salt to cover the bag.
- Air fry at 200°C for 50 minutes, then let it rest in the air fryer for another 10 minutes.
- Take it out, save the salt for future use, then cut and serve!