Margaret Xu's signature "Yellow Earth Roast Chicken" is a must-try at her Yin Yang restaurant in Hong Kong. She uses a terracotta oven to achieve superbly crispy skin and evenly roasted tenderness.
Update April 2015: Here's Margaret showing the steps. I have taken the liberty to transcribe the recipe.
1 fresh chicken
1 tbsp fresh ginger with olive oil*
1 tbsp mandarin wine/Chinese rice wine
*Fresh ginger with olive oil marinade
100g fresh kencur (photo above), zedoary or sand ginger (it is different from galangal/lengkuas)
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
1tsp sea salt
1 strand curry leaf (I would use more)
1. Mix all the ingredients for fresh ginger olive oil in a vacuum flask until it is boiled. Cook it for half an hour. You can keep the mixture for a month.
2. Let the chicken marinade mixture sit overnight to allow flavours to mix. Season the inside of the chicken with the marinade and mandarin wine.
3. Season the outside of the chicken with rock salt. Leave the chicken for about 4 to 6 hours.
4. Hang the chicken over enclosed charcoal oven for 1 hour. Alternatively, roast chicken in preheated rotisserie oven at 225 deg C for 45 minutes, until the surface of the chicken turns golden yellow.
A previous online recipe had these instructions - pound some galangal, curry leaves and salt into a paste, add olive oil and Chinese rice wine. That's the marinade you put into the cavity of the chicken. After 8-24 hours, sprinkle some coarse salt on the chicken's skin and roast it. That's it.
Of course I had to try this, even if I didn't have a terracotta oven.
It sure looked nice enough. No butter or anything used under the skin, but it crisped up quite nicely anyway. Not as crisp as Margaret's, of course. Hers seemed to have the subcutaneous fat all rendered out! And hers stayed crisp for much longer.
There may be some marinade that spills out of the chicken while it sits in the fridge. Just pour it over the vegetables and roast it together with the chicken. Yummy!
Instead of carving the pieces, I just tore it by hand - the way Margaret likes to serve it too. Surprisingly the meat is very moist.
So did it taste the same? Well, similar but not quite. The marinade was certainly fragrant but the chicken still tasted a little bland. I think it needs serious marination - I only did mine for 7-8hrs. It will be interesting to see what a 24-hour marinade will achieve. I do think the use of curry leaves for this is quite a brainwave - the irony is learning about this from a Hong Kong chef!
We enjoyed the chicken, and tossed the leftovers into some aglio olio pasta with chilies and mushrooms.
P.S. The recipe calls for 15 curry leaves - I was sure if it meant 15 leaves or stalks, but I went for more, so 15 stalks! I don't know about you, but I do love the smell of curry leaves!