4 August 2010

The Virtual Supper Club Goes Light for the Moon Festival with Salt Baked Chicken

Salt Baked Chicken

We interrupt our Eat, Pray, Love Italian challenge for our monthly Cooking Light challenge! We are so glad you have decided to join us once again for our Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club. This is a monthly event where 5 ladies in two neighbouring countries get together to create a delicious meal with a theme in mind. We are now in our second year and continue to share a love for Cooking Light magazine which has an emphasis on healthy eating and living. The idea is simple because of our common interest in cooking and healthy cuisine. We love to share these ideas with you each and every month through our Virtual Supper Club. This is a team effort where we combine what Cooking Light readers like best...good food with great company!!! This month our menu features dishes for:
A Taste of Chinatown
Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is brightest for the entire year, the Chinese celebrate "zhong qiu jie." The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese holidays. Chinese families celebrate the end of the harvest season with a big feast so what better way for our club to celebrate getting together this month virtually than with a traditional Chinese feast and some great company..don't forget the sake!!

Children are told the story of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, who comes out to dance on the moon's shadowed surface.  During fall, the skies are commonly clear and cloudless and the nights crisp and sharp. In these night sky conditions, the moon appears to be the brightest. The fifteenth of the eighth month is the middle of autumn, thus the festival celebrates the moon's appearance as the brightest and most beautiful throughout the year.

The August Moon Festival is often called the Women's Festival. The moon symbolizes beauty and elegance. While Westerners worship the sun (yang or male) for its power, people in the Far East admire the moon. The moon is the 'yin' or female principle and a trusted friend.

The festival has a traditional offering of Moon Cakes. While in the past mooncakes took up to four weeks to make, automation has speeded up the process considerably. Today, mooncakes may be filled with everything from dates, nuts, and fruit to Chinese sausages. More exotic creations include green tea mooncakes, and ping pei or snowskin mooncakes, a Southeast Asian variation made with cooked glutinous rice flour. Haagen-Daz has even gotten into the act by introducing a line of ice cream mooncakes in Asian markets.

Mooncakes are rather high in calories so for our feast today we are presenting some lighter options. First up is my main dish of Salted Baked Chicken. Traditionally, this recipe uses a whole marinated chicken wrapped in lotus leaves, and then immersed in a bed of hot rock salt  and cooked on a stovetop. The modern conveniences of an oven make it much easier to control the cooking temperature while still creating one of the most succulent and juicy birds you will ever try. Allowing the chicken to stand at room temperature for an hour before cooking creates perfection. The golden color of the roasted bird also represents wealth, and serving a whole chicken is thought to ensure good luck for the coming year.

We have all enjoyed a medley of dishes at our local Chinese restaurants. Patsy of Family, Friends and Food wowed us with her choice of  Pork and Stir Fried Veggies in Spicy Sauce

Long time member Jamie of Mom's Cooking Club complimented our menu with Udon Beef Noodle Bowl

Sandi of The Whistestop Cafe had the inspiration to create a recipe from the pages of Cooking Light... Asian Turkey Cabbage Cups.

To balance the menu Shelby of The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch adds a delicious classic of  Ma Po Tofu...even Grumpy enjoyed it!!

**Salt-Baked Chicken**

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 (1 x 2–inch) strip dried tangerine peel
1 (4.5- to 5-pound) roasting chicken
5 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 -1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
Cooking spray

Combine 2 1/2 cups boiling water and tangerine peel in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat. Rub 1 tablespoon salt under skin; let stand 5 minutes. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Place chicken on the rack of a roasting pan; let stand 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Transfer chicken to a work surface. Combine remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, shallots, ginger, wine, soy sauce, oil, and honey in a small bowl. Rub 3 tablespoons shallot mixture inside cavity of chicken. Place onions and tangerine peel inside cavity. Rub remaining shallot mixture under loosened skin.

Place chicken, breast side up, on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour reserved tangerine soaking liquid into a shallow roasting pan; place rack in pan. Bake at 425° for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer registers 165° and skin has turned a dark golden brown color. Let stand 15 minutes. Discard skin, and slice.

At my own home I served the Salt Baked Chicken with Shrimp Fried Rice and a tasty Asian Snap Pea Salad with Sesame-Orange Dressing  from the pages of Cooking Light. Once you master it, fried rice is an extremely versatile dish that can be made with all kinds of meat, seafood, and vegetables.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Val, first of all, your dish is gorgeous. I was admiring your whole blog earlier this morning, it is really just all so beautiful! Sorry, that was somewhat off topic. ;o)

    I really appreciated your input on the Moon festival. My former boss (who is Chinese) used to talk about the moon cakes but it never really sunk in what it was all about until I read your post! Thank you for being our fearless leader and being so informative!

  2. Wow, that chicken looks amazing Val. I love the platter it sits on as well. What a pretty presentation on our "table".

  3. Val, this was fascinating! Your method for roasting the chicken is very similar to mine, but I will definitely try your mixture. Great post!
    xoxo Pattie

  4. Great flavors and wonderfully crispy skin! That chicken looks so good.



  5. I must send this to my daughter in law;she will appreciate.That chicken looks great.
    Great title for your blog.

  6. Beautiful, as always! I love Cooking Light magazine- this chicken dish looks fabulous. Loved your information on the Moon Festival as well as the links to the other recipes. Thanks!

  7. Wonderful story on the Chinese Moon Festival, I very much like that celebration.

    The chicken is really a work of art! Gorgeous.

  8. Gorgeous dish Val. I've wondered about how this recipe would work and I'm so glad you've tried it.

  9. I still have yet to ever bake a whole chicken but when I do, this is where I'm going to start! I love the flavors on it.

    Thanks so much for telling the story behind the Moon Festival! I feel like I've learned so much.

  10. Awesome looking chicken!! I'm always looking for new chicken recipes as we eat a TON of it! Asian style gets my vote too! Thanks!

  11. yum. also, yum. complete with a lovely flower on top--nice work! :)

  12. I made a great CL meal on Sunday. The magazine is hit or miss for me; some months I find TONS of recipes, other months I find nothing. But I still love reading their tips and tricks for eating living more healthfully! The chicken looks perfectly cooked; what a wonderful crust!

  13. I feel like I've heard of salt baked cod, but salt baked chicken is much more up my alley.

  14. This is a great technique, the chicken must be so tender. It looks so good Val.

  15. Wow!!!. that is one swell of a roasted chicken. The mixture sounds interesting . Would love to try it.

  16. Val...what an very charming tale about such an important symbolic Chinese event. I'll pass it along to my Mom who is also greatly celebrated on the 15th for an Italian symbolic feast called 'Santa Assunta'...it's a really big deal. Now she'll be aware of this one...and of course I'm happy with the fact that there's a fairy involved ;o)

    The savoury / sweet of your recipe sounds absolutely delicious. I've made chicken in so many ways...and I know for sure that this one is going to be made in my oven too!

    Have a great day,

  17. This sounds (and looks) delicious. All the ingredients are readily available except the dried tangerine peel. As luck would have it, we are going into the Chinatown area for some dim sum next week. I'll seek it out.


  18. Your chicken is absolutely gorgeous! I hope to try this myself soon and love that you chose this theme for August! Thanks for continually sharing fabulous dishes with our VSC!

  19. I have had computer issues all week, my post is sorely lacking any photos~ but the recipe is fabulous! It would go well with the rest of our trip to chinatown!

  20. That chicken looks absolutely delicious.......great post!


  21. Thanks for the Chinese culture lesson. I love finding out about legends and festivals of other countries.

    That chicken looks wonderful. I'm always looking for new ways to cook whole chickens since I buy them almost weekly at the farmer's market. Nice flavors.

  22. That whole meal sounds amazing! I wish I was sitting down to all of it right now...

  23. I love this Valli, love your plate too! gloria

  24. This sounds amazing, Val!! I'd love to sit down with this whole chicken...I mean, tangerine peel, salt, ginger, rice wine, honey...ahhhh, I'm salivating overtime! YUM!

  25. Beautiful photography! Love the recipe too. I'd love to make this for tonight, but it will have to wait until this weekend when I have more time. Thanks for sharing!


  26. Your salt baked chicken is just beautiful! I love that you added the flowers! It was fun reading about the mooncakes and festival as well. I'd love to try some!

  27. That chicken is simply beautiful! I didn't know about the Moon festival, but am so happy to have a new reason to celebrate being a woman!

  28. I can't keep up with you!! Too many recipes to try...another one that must go on the list.

  29. That is the prettiest chicken I've ever seen!Cooking Light needs to put your photo in their magazine. You hear me Cooking Light!!! You've been creating some awesome looking food here Val!

  30. Excellent, I put it on the grill and it caramelized nicely. The chicken by itself was delicious, but I made sandwiches out of it, too, with wheat buns, grilled pineapple, red onions and swiss cheese.

  31. This chicken was great! The only thing I changed was the garlic salt, I used garlic powder. I was afraid that the chicken would be too salty if I used the garlic salt. Great Recipe, Thanks

  32. Easy and delish! This one's going in my regular rotation

  33. I still love reading their tips and tricks for eating living more healthfully! The chicken looks perfectly cooked; what a wonderful crust! Thanks.

  34. I still love reading their tips and tricks for eating living more healthfully! The chicken looks perfectly cooked; what a wonderful crust! Thanks.


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