Bai Zhan Chicken

There’s this misconception that Chinese food is unhealthy, oily and full of MSG.  I remember my first experience with Western Chinese food in Italy.  I was horrified by the glistening dishes of vegetables and meats smothered in rich, thick sauces. The thick, chewy spring rolls that have been fried and refried with a burst of oil in every bite.  The egg fried rice, oh the egg fried rice.  How do you make the egg fried rice so unhealthy?  How do you make it so frighteningly sticky and shiny? 

The real Chinese diet is actually healthy and low in fat. I grew up in Beijing with a Chinese mother who’s very much a health freak, so I got the essence of Chinese health foods.  So here is a recipe of a dish I grew up with, hoping to break your falsified belief about Chinese cuisine.  A simple, healthy and economical appetizer that would, contrary to Chinese restaurants’ beliefs, suit your Western taste buds’ needs.   Oh and the best bit – you can find all the ingredients in our tiny little Tesco without having to go to the Dundee Chinese supermarket (though if you haven’t been – go, it's marvelous). 

Bai Zhan Chicken


Chicken thighs

1 knob of ginger, sliced

1 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp ginger, minced

2 tbsp soya sauce

½ tbsp sesame oil


Boil enough water in a big pot that would fit the chicken, add ginger and chicken and let it simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes until it is cooked. Plunge the chicken in some ice water to cool it down.   

Fry the garlic, ginger and spring onion in a bit of oil, once fragrant, add the soya sauce and sesame oil.  Serve chicken with the sauce.


Images sourced from London EaterFotoosVanRobin and JanisZh. Compiled by Veronica Verplancken.